February 26, 2021
A tender for the construction and operation of a long-awaited fuel cell at Durong has been awarded to heavy haulage business Corbet’s Group.
At Wednesday’s general Council meeting, South Burnett councillors voted unanimously to award the tender to the 40-year-old company after a three-month tender process.
The idea of reconfiguring a lot at the corner of Chinchilla-Wondai and Mundubbera-Durong roads to house a 24-hour diesel fuel cell was first proposed in March 2019.
The Council-owned site was once used as cattle yards and a dip but is now used by truck drivers to park their trailers as they ferry freight in and out of the region.
The need for the fuel cell was prompted by the closure of the former Durong South General Store two years earlier.
The store sold fuel as well as general groceries and food, and its closure forced residents in the area to drive an extra 38km to the next nearest fuel outlet at Darr Creek.
In 2019 – after carrying out public consultations – the Council voted to use funds it had obtained from the Drought Communities Program to activate the project.
The funding allowed the Council to subdivide the block in order to preserve the existing truck parking area for general public use.
It also paid for upgrades to the block’s entrance and exit, pavement and surface, along with drainage improvements to ensure all-weather accessibility.
Once works were completed, the Council called for tenders last October to construct and operate the fuel cell.
At December’s meeting, Councillors were told two tenders had been received for the project and officers recommended that a bid from the Corbet’s Group be accepted.
However, Cr Kirstie Schumacher moved an amendment to lay the final decision on the table until February’s general meeting so Councillors could workshop the issue.
One concern she had was initial strong opposition to the idea from the former owner of the Durong South General Store, who told Council they believed construction of the fuel cell would make their property harder to sell.
At February’s meeting, however, Councillors heard this concern had evaporated after the store recently changed hands.
The motion to award the tender to Corbet’s Group was then passed unanimously.