Be Prepared - Have Projects Ready to Go

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Published by Preston Law on 03/04/2020

Local Governments are some of the largest employers in the State, and the Federal and State governments are looking to fast track funding for projects to keep Local Governments, its’ employees and by extension communities as functional and operational as possible in these uncertain times. Being prepared with shovel ready projects to take up the funding opportunities as they develop is a good strategy and will give some assurance for ongoing employment in your communities.

Over the last decade Councils that have been prepared to invest in shovel ready projects have been well rewarded.

In the eyes of funding agencies, shovel ready projects are seen as:

  • capable of proceeding quickly;
  • likely to be financially acquitted within the funding timeframe; and
  • a hall mark of enterprise and initiative by particular Councils.

The risk inherent in shovel ready projects is the upfront investment required to secure approvals, acquire land and prepare design documentation on which a tender invitation can be based.

All this needs to be done with no assurance that the project will ever be able to be funded and proceed.

The reward is the greater opportunity to attract funding due to the ‘shovel ready’ status of the project.

How to get shovel ready

Project selection is the role of Councillors.

Project development is the role of Council officers and typically involves 6 phases:

Phase 1. feasibility

Phase 2. approvals and land or easement acquisition

Phase 3. design development

Phase 4. tendering

Phase 5. construction

Phase 6. acquittal

Phases 1 and 2 land are closely entwined as a reliable feasibility outcome cannot be achieved without close consideration of the approval and acquisition processes that will be needed.  A key part of the feasibility process should be to consider alternative sites, access routes and the approval requirements of each.

Native Title

  • in some cases development can proceed after a notification period is given
  • in other cases, there are long lead times and uncertain outcomes

Nature Conservation 

  • applications for leases have long lead times and need to be heavily supported

Land or Easement Resumption 

  • many landowners will agree but a small proportion never will
  • failure to commence the acquisition process at an early stage is a common cause of project delay and Councillor disappointment

Road Closure and Openings

  • these are processes administered under the Land Act 1994
  • if road closure is ‘project critical’ it needs to be applied for at an early stage.

With our specialist knowledge, we are able to assist with the approval processes. Successful outcomes from these processes give Councils a firm basis on which to move to Phase 3 design development so that they have a genuinely shovel ready project for purposes of their funding application.

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