June 19, 2020
Durong will get a 24-hour fuel cell more than a year after the South Burnett Regional Council first began seeking public feedback on the idea.
The 65,000 litre fuel cell will be located on a Council-owned block at the corner of the Mundubbera-Durong and Chinchilla-Wondai roads, diagonally opposite the former Durong General Store.
The closure of the store in 2017 – which had been a petrol outlet for the area – forced many locals to drive long distances in order to refuel their vehicles.
The nearest alternative was 38km away at Darr Creek, and other refuelling options were at even greater distances.
In March last year, the Council floated the idea of encouraging a fuel distributor to open a 24-hour fuel cell in the area, and sought public feedback.
Former Mayor Keith Campbell said at the time the corner block site was once used as cattle yards and a dip, but was now used by B-double truck drivers to park their trailers as they ferried freight in and out of the region.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Councillors heard the initial round of public consultations had drawn concerns from transport operators, who were worried that if the block were sold to a private business they might lose access to the essential truck parking area.
The owners of the Durong Store building were also concerned the fuel cell would make it more difficult to sell their property.
Cr Kathy Duff told the meeting she supported the proposal because it would inject more energy into the Durong area.
“The Durong Store has been vacant for a very, very long time,” Cr Duff said.
“I think if the truck stop is across the way they will still have the option to sell unleaded fuel because the cell is purely for diesel.
“I also think it will actually be more attractive to put a shop there because you’ll have a designated truck stop plus diesel there.”
Cr Duff said the Durong Store had focussed on providing groceries and food more than fuel.
“It is a sad state of affairs now that the store has closed – there’s not a lot of activity there (in Durong),” Cr Duff said.
“I’m supportive of something that will bring some more energy into that area.”
Cr Gavin Jones agreed.
“I understand the concerns that have been raised but I totally agree it has the potential to become a hub,” he said.
“If I owned that shop I’d certainly be looking at putting a little cafe or restaurant there because there’ll be people staying in the area.
“I fully support this development.”
Cr Scott Henschen said he agreed with Crs Duff and Jones.
“It’s disappointing the store is closed but the fuel cell will only assist in its sale,” he said.
In reply to a question from Cr Kirstie Schumacher about why Council proposed leasing a portion of the block to a fuel cell operator rather than selling off the land, Community General Manager Peter O’May told the meeting leasing was a way for Council to preserve the truck decoupling area.
He said if the entire block was sold, a new owner might decide to use it exclusively for their own vehicles or impose other conditions that deprived transport industry operators of the facilities they enjoyed now.
The solution was to subdivide the block to create a specific space for the fuel cell, then lease that to an operator while the remainder of the corner stayed in public ownership.
Mr O’May said once the block had been prepared, Council would put the offer to operate an onsite fuel cell out to public tender.
Councillors voted unanimously to proceed with the project.
- Related article: Feedback Sought On Fuel Cell