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General News

19 October, 2022

Wish list for new regional plan

LOCAL leaders have revealed their wish list for the new Far North Queensland Regional Plan which will be developed over the next 12 months to replace the outdated 13-year-old document.

By Robyn Holmes

Wish list for new regional plan - feature photo

The plan guides the region’s long-term future and influences government investment in areas such as transport, water management, natural resources, and community infrastructure.

Much has happened since the 2009-2031 Regional Plan was developed including a population surge in the Greater Cairns region from 122,731 in 2006 to 253,748 in the 2021 census.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said a new Regional Infrastructure Plan and associated update of the FNQ Regional Plan would reflect changed circumstances and key priorities for the region, supporting growth and development over the next 25 years.

“The plan plays a strategic role in supporting the economic, environmental, social and cultural priorities and opportunities for FNQ, including for the towns of Mareeba, Port Douglas and Mossman,” Ms Lui said.

“The review process will seek to identify potential opportunities for Mareeba in areas such as agriculture, industrial growth, mining services and aviation.

“Within the current FNQ Regional Plan boundary, Mossman and Port Douglas are the largest towns north of Cairns and the review will assess economic synergies between the two including Mossman’s role as an administrative, service, agricultural and industrial centre and Port Douglas’s tourism focus.”

Ms Lui said the government was also developing an FNQ economic strategy and an FNQ Infrastructure Plan.

Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin said key is-sues such as the Kuranda Range Road capacity needed to be addressed in the new Regional Plan document because it had the potential to limit the development of the Mareeba Shire.

“The main focus of the new Regional Plan will hopefully drive sustainable development and be focused on what we can do rather that what we can’t do,” she said.

“We also want to see options for additional growth areas, the issue of climate change and increasing our renewable energy resources addressed, responsible waste management, and appropriate regional recognition and promotion for Mareeba Airport and the Mareeba Industrial Park.”

For Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti, water security and improved health services are some of the critical needs of the area.

“The plan should identify the critical importance of water security to agricultural production, living amenity (recreation) and economic and social wellbeing,” he said.

“We have advocated for the Priors Creek redevelopment, the expansion of the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, funding for water infrastructure and the continued expansion of primary and secondary health services including both specialists and procedural medical services.

“It would also be great for it to also reflect key priorities identified in our new Community Plan — Tablelands 2030+.”

He said the council provided input to the new Regional Plan through the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Regional Community Forum in September, and the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning’s Economic Strategy Workshop.

Member for Hill Shane Knuth said housing, water infrastructure and roads needed to be the focus of any future regional development plans for the Far North.

“Before any major plan is developed and re-leased the Department of Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning needs to consult with the regions,” he said.

“I would push for the opportunity to open further land for affordable housing with the continuing housing crisis the country is seeing and push for more infrastructure to support the region.

“While we acknowledge that our road infrastructure is receiving a lot of attention to connect the region at the moment, our priority needs to be the Upper Barron Road for better connection of the regions and to ensure that Ootann Road is fully upgraded to connect to the Cape and Gulf to alleviate pressure on Tablelands roads.

“A new fast-tracked inland highway from the Tablelands to Cairns also needs to be considered.”

There will be opportunities for the community to get involved with the development of the FNQ Regional Plan throughout the process including when a draft plan is released for consultation next year.

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