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Local projects support bushfire recovery in Upper Hunter

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Major projects in Merriwa, Singleton and Dungog are set to benefit by more than $1.6 million from stage two of the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.

The NSW and Australian governments’ initiative will ensure those specific communities receive a critical boost to their financial revival.

Upper Hunter Shire Council secured $922,674 to create a cycle and walkway in Merriwa; the Northern Agricultural Society procured $487,000 to upgrade Singleton Showground’s main building; and Dungog Shire Council obtained a handy $264,432 to go towards the Camping to Common Trail Connections, linking the Dungog Showground to the Dungog Common.

The three ventures should deliver important infrastructure improvements, as well as social and community outcomes, according to Upper Hunter state MP Dave Layzell.

“One of the great features about this funding is it provides for recreational and community event-related projects,” he said.

“The developments (announced today) are just one part of the complete recovery journey of the Upper Hunter electorate and will help us to continue repairing the social and economic fabric of our local towns.

“The NSW Government remains committed to building safer and stronger regional and rural communities.”

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said the diverse nature of the stage two Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund projects was driven by the specific recovery needs of each community and guided by locally-led applications.

“One year has passed since we cleared 3,600 properties damaged or destroyed by the Black Summer bushfires,” he stated.

“And, we are continuing to deliver the support that the Upper Hunter electorate needs to keep moving forward in recovery.

“People are rebuilding their lives and we are backing projects that will bring communities together, support tourism, provide improved or new social amenity, and increase preparedness to future bushfires.

“All of these things play a part in recovery.”

Mr Barilaro said more than 650 applications were received from 47 LGAs (local government areas) impacted by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires in NSW, requesting a total of $1.6 billion – more than six times the original funding available.

“I understand that preparing and submitting applications takes a lot of time and energy and, with such an oversubscription of applications and high demand for funding, it means there will be many disappointed applicants,” he added.

“I am pleased unsuccessful applicants will now have the chance to consider submitting their project to the Australian Government’s $280 million Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants, which is expected to open in July 2021.

“Applicants who did not receive funding will be offered an opportunity for feedback on their application and also advice about other funding options that they might wish to consider.”

The Department of Regional NSW led the merit-based assessment of all 652 applications against the published guidelines and assessment criteria.

The robust, fair and transparent process was overseen by independent probity advisors from both the Australian and NSW governments.

Applications were assessed and recommended by the Department of Regional NSW and subsequently reviewed and endorsed by the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, with final funding decisions approved by the NSW Government.

The Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund is one part of the $4.5 billion overarching bushfire support program co-funded by the Australian and NSW governments for bushfire recovery, response and preparedness in NSW.

For further information, visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/blerfund

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