Research centre planted on Central Coast

By Paul Hemsley

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has collaborated with the University of Newcastle to invest $6 million on a Primary Industries Centre located at the University’s Ourimbah campus.

Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said the investment will enhance science and research capabilities to drive productivity and support farmers across the state.

Research scientist Leigh Pilkington said a staff of 65 agriculture extension and fisheries experts under the Department of Primary Industries were all moved from the previous location at Narara, which operated since 1914.

Mr Pilkington said the staff with the University and the Department of Primary Industries are in conjoint positions.

“They’re paid by the Department of Primary Industries, they’re on our payroll, they’re our staff, it’s like an honourary role at the University and that allows them to provide for students and give lectures,” Mr Pilkington said.

Project maintenance supervisor Glenn Douglas said the Department of Public Works managed the building project and tendered for Australian company ADCO constructions to build the site.

Mr Douglas said Wyong Shire Council’s involvement was to make the environmental assessments to ensure the building was acceptable in the normal development application process.

According to Mr Pilkington, the building is in two stages, with the first stage being laboratories down stairs and offices and workplaces upstairs, which was suitable for the 65 staff doing all the laboratory work downstairs including controlled environment rooms and labs filled with equipment brought over from Narara.

He said the second stage will have a $2 million investment on greenhouse development about hundred metres from the primary site, but still on university grounds.

“We’re going to have storage for fisheries equipment but also importantly research facilities for greenhouse horticulture,” Mr Pilkington said.

"The Primary Industries Centre is about solving problems such as bio-security, increasing production, increasing food safety, and for the fishery side of things, it’s making sure that people comply with the fishing regulations to protect our waterways."

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