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Somerset Regional Council Meeting Highlights - 29 June 2022

Published: 29th June 2022

New 24-hour flood camera installation

Following the devastating 2022 floods, Somerset Regional Council is upgrading its suite of flood cameras to operate 24 hours a day.

Local Disaster Management Group representative, Councillor Kylee Isidro welcomed the move.

“We have been working closely with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority since the floods and with Australian and Queensland Government support we are in the process of upgrading all of our flood cameras to operate day and night.”

“During the floods our most popular web pages were our flood cameras because they offered real time information about the state of our major river crossings.

“In February there were more than 250,000 views of our flood cameras and this is the most practical way of getting information out to people.

“The new cameras are not only at a higher resolution than before but will now also display night images to provide 24-hour information.”

Mount Stanley Low Resolution

Mount Stanley High Resolution 2022

Mount Stanley High Resolution Night 2022

Images from the Mt Stanley Road #1 crossing old low resolution camera in June 2022 and day and night images from the new high-resolution flood camera after the site had been cleared by Council crews.


Approval for completion works for new Esk IGA complex

Somerset Regional Council has conditionally approved proposals that will complete the new IGA shopping complex in Esk.

Economic Recovery Sub-Group representative, Councillor Bob Whalley said council had been working hard to increase economic and employment opportunities within Somerset.

“We are pleased to have approved this proposal with conditions which will complete Esk’s new shopping centre,” Cr Whalley said.

“The new Esk IGA and associated shops have already proved very popular and have clearly created new opportunities in town at a time when we really need those opportunities following natural disasters and pandemic.

“We aim to retain as many shopping dollars as possible in our communities and I am sure that Esk residents are enjoying not having to travel out of town to do their weekly shop with fuel prices the way they are.”

Cr Whalley said Council has approved new advertising signage for the site.

“The advertising signage approval will help the new shops capture as much passing trade as possible and is appropriate for the locality and comparable to other similar highway-frontage shopping centres including Kilcoy and Fernvale,” he said.

“The signage will be completed as part of final stages with the inclusion of additional car parking.”


Rural living growth for Lowood Hills

Somerset Regional Council has conditionally approved a 79-lot residential estate at Lowood Hills with an average lot size of 3,585 m².

Lowood community action group representative Councillor Sean Choat said, “This is the sort of park residential development that people are seeking and which most SEQ councils can’t offer.”

“Even the smallest lot in this new Lowood Hills estate will be 3,000 m²,” Cr Choat said.

“This is a logical approach to the subdivision of the largely cleared grazing land and provides a well-designed transition between the urban area of Lowood and the rural area of the Lowood Hills.

“We look forward to welcoming even more new residents to the Somerset region and the best of rural living in the heart of South-East Queensland.”


Roof renewal project to extend life of Esk Administration Centre

Somerset Regional Council has approved a tender to replace the roof on Council's Esk administration headquarters as well other structural changes.

Human Social Recovery Sub-Group representative, Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke said, "The Esk Council office was originally opened in February 1940 and extended multiple times since then."

"It is no secret that the roof on the oldest part of the administration building regularly fails during rain events causing water leaks which create electrical and other potential safety hazards,” Cr Gaedtke said.

“As with all our assets, Council has obtained professional advice about the condition and remaining life of the Esk administration building and based on independent valuation advice, we believe we can achieve a further 31 years out of this building by making these changes.

“The lowest tender of $759,591 (including GST) for the project should be viewed as a way of achieving this 31 years additional life for the Esk office and is the best long-term option for Council.

“We will also be looking at an opportunity to expand our PV solar array which has already reduced our power bills for the Esk office and library by more than $30,000 a year.”


Peppercorn lease of rural fire shed

Somerset Regional Council has approved a lease of Council freehold land at Wivenhoe Pocket to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) at a peppercorn rate.

Council Rural Fire Brigade Coordination Committee representative, Councillor Jason Wendt, said this was great news for our firies.

“This shed will be used for rural fire purposes and the new lease provides tenure to this vital volunteer service for the next 20 years,” Cr Wendt said.

“Rural fire brigades have serviced our region during the severe bushfires in 2019, floods in 2020 and 2022 and in every other year and at all times of the day and night to make sure our community stays as safe as possible.

“We owe it to them to help where we can with matters like this peppercorn lease.

“Council recently voted at its budget to provide $356,000 of funding support to rural fire brigades during 2022/2023 which is around a 15% increase on the year before because we know what it takes to run and equip a fleet of trucks and gear in the current environment.”


Council powers up State’s energy future

Somerset Regional Council has moved towards facilitating additional renewable energy to power Queensland’s future.    

Council, at its ordinary meeting on Wednesday, 29 June, approved an operational works application from BE Power Pty Ltd that will assist in progressing the 400-MV Big-T pumped storage project.

The approval will kickstart investigative work required for the potential development of a 10-hour pumped hydro energy storage facility at Lake Cressbrook.

Council approved works including the drilling of six boreholes and 12 test pits, to occur on land located on Oaky Mill Road and Sugar Loaf Road in Biarra. 

The project has a target commissioning date of 1 January 2026 according to publicly available material.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said if approved the project could deliver significant benefits to Queensland residents.

“The developer, BE Power has partnered with GE Renewable Energy to develop this project which aims to provide renewable energy solutions,” Cr Lehmann said.

For more information about the project visit:


Extension plans considered for regional art gallery

An extensive proposal for the future development at The Condensery, a regional art gallery in Toogoolawah, has been considered by Somerset Regional Council.

The new plans include the addition of a dedicated workshop space to support community engagement, an improved entrance and gallery shop, additional office space, a restaurant/café, storage and receiving facilities for the handling of art works and institutional loans.

The Condensery Advisory Committee Chair and Deputy Mayor Councillor Helen Brieschke said the proposal was “impressive and forward-thinking”.

“The additional facilities would allow The Condensery to offer a broader variety of art and cultural experiences to residents and visitors to Somerset, with the ability to host major travelling exhibitions and high value loans from institutions and collections across Australia,” Cr Brieschke said.

“The proposed development would offer dynamic, vibrant and engaging community spaces and artistic opportunities. This would mean more great art for Somerset residents, and more reasons for tourists to visit the region.”

Council will now appoint a quantity surveyor to provide an accurate estimate of costs and a feasibility report for the proposal.


Calls for dams to open and embrace 2032 opportunities

Somerset Regional Council will lobby the State Government to consider promoting Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams for legacy sporting opportunities ahead of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  

Mayor Graeme Lehmann said, “Council is listening to Somerset’s business and industry leaders who want to see these fantastic assets emerge as sporting legacies for their region.”

“This is not about hosting events but simply harnessing the iconic venues and infrastructure we already have to secure the economic and social benefits for current and future generations,” he said.

“We would also love to host visiting athletes and countries and show them some of Somerset’s country hospitality.”

Council of Mayors SEQ 2032 Legacy Working Group member Councillor Kylee Isidro said,  “The 2032 Brisbane games represents a 20-year opportunity for Queensland and the dams are such an amazing asset that can help showcase Australia’s most liveable region and shape its global identity.”

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