Construction of Lemnos cannabis farm gets closer

By Rodney Woods

Construction on a new glasshouse will soon greet travellers on Lemnos North Rd but it won't be tomatoes that are being grown once it's complete.

Instead Cannatrek will build a 72 ha medicinal cannabis facility at Lemnos, which will create 400 jobs and 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis yearly.

Once up and running, harvesting, processing and manufacturing will all be completed on site.

The company's chief executive officer Tommy Huppert hinted that construction could start before the end of June.

“Not at this stage (can we reveal a start date) but we're hoping to start soon in this year,” he said.

“We would like it to begin (during the first half of 2020).”

Mr Huppert explained why the company chose Lemnos as its ideal location and revealed how they were going to access water in an area that is scarce of the resource.

“We were looking at the whole Shepparton region,” he said.

“We were looking for a large piece of land with utilities, that's flat, has water and this just fitted perfectly.

“The beauty of our project is we will have a giant roof and we're going to catch it (rain).

“I know it doesn't rain every day when you want it to but we are going to try our best to catch it when it does rain.

“We are going to have massive ponds, we have two channels, which we can buy water on demand.”

When asked how water-intensive the crops would be, Mr Huppert said they would recycle water to lessen the need for it.

“We're using a drip system, which is the best way so it's quite low on water use.”

Mr Huppert said the company would prioritise locals to fill the 400 positions.

“To build a facility of this scale, (there) is certainly construction (jobs) in its initial phases and research and agronomic positions,” he said.

“We will also have post harvest (and) logistics (roles) so it's really quite a range of jobs we will be looking for in the development of the project.”

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum joined Mr Huppert at the site last Friday to announce the project had been given Major Project Status, which is Federal Government recognition of the strategic significance of a project to the country.

“It means the Federal Government will be working much, much closer with Cannatrek now that they have Major Project Status, than if that was not the case,” Mr Drum said.

“The ability to access further grants down the track will be improved.”

The project will cost the company $160 million, with production starting in 2021.