Farmers, firefighters and Western NSW residents will have access to vital real-time weather observations which will protect lives, reduce damage from fire and flood and boost business efficiency, thanks to a $24.4 million investment from the NSW Government.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Bureau of Meteorology NSW State Manager Ann Farrell announced the Doppler stations will deliver real-time rainfall data as well as wind observations across an expected 34 Local Government Areas in Western NSW, which is almost 30 per cent of the state.
Mr Barilaro signed the contract for the delivery of the three new Doppler radars while meeting NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers at the Mid Lachlan Valley Team Fire Control Centre at Forbes, who will directly benefit from the real-time data provided by the additional radar coverage.
“Right now, if you open the Bureau of Meteorology app and look at available radar options you’ll see a big gap across Western NSW, an area where residents, farmers, miners and firefighters have limited access to real-time wind and rain information,” Mr Barilaro said.
“These new Doppler radars will reveal wind and rain activity across almost 321,000 square kilometres, providing the real-time information Western NSW farmers and graziers need to make business decisions about when to sow, harvest or move stock.
“This $24.4 million NSW Government investment will give farmers instant access to accurate information to make quick, critical choices and adapt plans to boost productivity, minimise risk and save money.”
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the Doppler investment is part of the NSW Government’s $584 million drought relief package announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian in June 2018 to help drought affected farmers.
“I know Western NSW has been demanding radar coverage for many years and I am thrilled to say that we are taking action and building this critical infrastructure, which will boost the resilience of regional NSW during times of drought,” Mr Blair said.
Mr Blair said Doppler radar coverage will also help emergency services better anticipate and respond to fires which are sensitive to wind conditions and flooding caused by extreme wind and rain events.
“The wind data tracked by these new radar systems will help fire behaviour analysts more confidently assess areas that bush or grass fires may burn towards and potentially impact,” Mr Blair said.
“Unfortunately we know all too well the havoc that bush fires and storms can wreak, with 33 homes lost and 24 damaged in the state’s north earlier this month and the floods that devastated Forbes and the Central West in September 2016.
“Doppler radar data will give residents and businesses vital information in the face of such natural disasters and help emergency services anticipate areas that will likely suffer impacts and ensure resources are in place to respond.”
Bureau of Meteorology NSW State Manager Ann Farrell revealed optimal locations for the Doppler radar installations would be identified in the general vicinity of the Parkes, Brewarrina and Hillston-Ivanhoe regions in the coming months.
“The process for site selection will involve detailed site inspections and tests to ensure that Doppler radar performance and coverage is optimized, and is critically important to success in delivering the required services,” Ms Farrell said.
“It is anticipated that all three radars will be installed and operational in 2022.”
NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said the contract signing marked a significant step forward for the delivery of the three new radars.
“Our farmers make daily decisions when managing stock and crops. They are also at the front line when bushfires break out. The increased certainty from improved weather information gathered from these new radars is critical. We look forward to engaging with the BoM on the most appropriate locations of the Doppler radars,” Mr Jackson said.
“The NSW agricultural sector contributes over $14.5 billion annually to the economy, and generates over $6 billion in exports. With improved tools, such as these new radars, we can be confident of growing this output and continuing to strengthen rural and regional economies.”
Country Women’s Association of NSW President Annette Turner said the CWA has been campaigning on the issue for several years.
“Today’s announcement is very gratifying and we congratulate the NSW government on this significant investment,” Ms Turner said.
“Greater access to real-time weather observations is of vital importance to our farmers when it comes to managing and mitigating weather risks, but also assists emergency management and other industries such as tourism, aviation and mining.”