The first sod has been turned for one of three new Doppler radars in western NSW that will give farmers, emergency services and communities better access to real-time weather data.
Parkes is slated for one of these new radars in some fantastic news for the region; and local farmers will be a big beneficiary they look to map, plan and plant for the future.
The new radar at Brewarrina airport, where the first sod was just turned, is expected to be completed by October, with the other two to be built here in Parkes and in the Hillston-Ivanhoe regions as part of the NSW Government's $24.5 million election promise.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall's office confirmed there is no date as of yet for when the Parkes project will get underway, though it is confirmed all three sites are due to be completed and operating by October 2021.
Complicating the starting date has been finding a suitable site for the Parkes radar, with a lot of consideration needing to be given to the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, and if any new doppler radar has the potential to affect the telescope's operation.
Mr Marshall said the three radars were being built in western NSW as there was a "black hole" of weather information in that region.
He there were five other Doppler stations that were further east, including Moree and Gunnedah, but none in the west.
"There is a virtual black hole of weather information in western NSW as there is no radar," Mr Marshall said.
"The reason why the State Government is doing this is because we were sick of the Commonwealth Government not making the investment on radar stations that were crucial because without good, accurate data, how can farmers rely on the forecast."
Mr Marshall said they had a functional zone of 200km radius from the site of the Doppler weather radar that would fill the gap in western NSW and allow farmers to make better on-farm decisions.
Ed Fessey, a farmer from Brewarrina, said the radars could not come soon enough as they were an essential service for not only farmers but local councils, tourists, emergency services and aircraft.
"They are long overdue... they are a mantle of safety and forewarning of where storms go and what roads will be affected as we have many dirt roads out here," Mr Fessey said.
"Farmers further east can prepare if they know a storm is coming and nail down a roof while emergency services need to know where storms are going for power lines.
"In this day and age information is gold."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the radars would be able to detect rain drops, hail, bushfire plumes, rain intensity, and wind velocity, vastly improving real-time weather services for the community.
"At the moment there is a significant gap where western NSW communities have had limited access to real-time weather information but I am thrilled that work has now begun to build this critical infrastructure," Mr Barilaro said.
"The radars will boost business efficiency by providing rainfall data as well as wind observations to primary producers and regional communities, providing critical information for producers to base farm management decisions on.
"They will also protect lives, and help reduce damage from fires and floods by providing improved, vital information to emergency services."
The radar will be part of a growing national network of more than 60 weather radars operated by the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology.
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