Access to water is the defining factor in the northern landscape and it is the element that has driven collaboration between two engineering companies.
Townsville-based UDP Group and the Brisbane-headquartered O2 Group announced the merger earlier this year.
The merger was more than the confluence of engineering disciplines, said O2UDP executive director Pat Brady. It was also about having the capacity to manage bigger development in line with community standards.
“Growth can’t be commercial without being sustainable. Growth can’t be efficient without effectively operating with the community.
At the same time all impacts on the Great Barrier Reef need to be mitigated,” he said.
“With this merger we now have one foot in a metropolitan centre where we can influence decision-making and another in north Queensland, which will be the centre of the action.”
The immediate opportunity was presented by the new political focus on developing northern Australia, Mr Brady said.
“The northern Australia development is not a gold rush,” he said. “It is actually going to take a long-term commitment to the regions.”
“That’s where the collective comes into play. We’ve got planners, environmental scientists, agricultural scientists, soil scientists and economists, among others.
“We’re at the front end working with the councils and all the other stakeholders and investors helping them build their strategy.
“We’re using Townsville as a base to service the regions and helping build what is ultimately going to be a service sector into that new geography around agriculture.”
O2UDP would focus much of its energy on the development of water infrastructure, chief executive officer David Pollock said.
“The key to northern Australia if we talk about any sort of expansion – be it agriculture, mining or grazing – is water,” he said.
“The current conversation on dam-site feasibility is central to it. The ability to capture water and use that as the foundation of development west of the Dividing Range really is going to be the key.”
With locations in Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Perth, Busselton, Port Moresby and Vietnam, among others,
Mr Pollock said O2UDP was well positioned to service its clients in key growth centres throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
“Both groups have excelled in their core markets of urban growth, agriculture, mining and energy,” he said.
“This next step in our evolution sees the new group ideally positioned to take advantage of the emerging opportunities including those that will occur in infrastructure, water and agriculture in northern Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.”