Growing Medical Marijuana in a Temperature Controlled Environment
Growing Medical Marijuana in a Temperature Controlled Environment

Council makes decision on $500m cannabis facility

THE PROPONENT of a state-of-the-art $500 million medicinal cannabis facility near the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport expects it will begin earthworks on-site in the first quarter of next year, after being given the green light from Toowoomba Regional Council. 

Council planning officer Lachlan O'Sullivan approved Asterion Australia's development application for the project on Monday. 

According to documents filed with the council, the facility will consist of four glasshouse "modules", capable of producing 500 tonnes a year of dried cannabis for medicinal use, as well as processing, packing and tissue culture facility and administration building. 

The massive project is expected to take up more than 45ha and generate more than 1000 jobs, all while injecting up to $1 billion into the Toowoomba and Australian economies. 

The farm's product will be exported internationally via Wellcamp Airport. 

Asterion Australia director of communications and business development Dave Holland said the company was "very pleased" with the approval. 

"It's a major step forward for the project, that's for sure," he said. 

The company also applied to the Federal Government's Office of Drug Control for relevant approvals in December last year, and Mr Holland said he hoped a decision was imminent. 

He said the first, extensive civil works were expected to start in the first quarter of 2020. Asterion Australia has already begun the tender process and Mr Holland said they "had people in mind" to begin earthworks, "but wouldn't be making commitments to anybody until we've got both the DA and the licence". 

"We can say very confidently that there will be a lot of local participation involved," he said. 

"We'll be working to set up for businesses to engage with both the project, as in the development of it, but also the ongoing operation. We'll be working with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise to do that." 

Mr Holland said the Toowoomba community had been "extraordinarily supportive" of the project. 

"We have just been astounded by how much support we've had from local businesses and the general public. We've got the feel in Toowoomba that this is the place they want to grow and do things and are acting on it. That's not always the case." 

TRC Mayor Paul Antonio welcomed news of the project's approval. 

"It's going to be a world-leading enterprise and naturally we're quite happy about it," he said. 

"I think you'll find that shedded horticulture in this area has a very bright future." 

Cr Antonio said the council had simply "followed the rules and encouraged investment, and that will provide long-term, secure jobs for many people here".