The first Regional Plan for North Queensland has been drafted by the Queensland Government following the consultation process back in 2017. There was a long delay between these two phases for some unknown reason. NQCC took the time to provide feedback on the draft with the valuable input of its members.
Regional plans assist with identifying objectives and a vision at a regional scale that crosses multiple local government boundaries. They don't necessarily override local planning schemes (i.e. Townsville City Council's City Plan) however regional plans can be helpful in highlighting where a specific development is inconsistent (or not) with the vision for the region.
NQCC's submission on the draft North Queensland Regional Plan raised several matters with a particular focus on climate change mitigation, sustainability principles, wildlife corridors, key environmental values and renewable energy investigation areas. The draft North Queensland Regional Plan makes reference to adaptation to climate change, however NQCC recommended a more explicit commitment to mitigation and to incorporate this into the vision for the region.
The NQCC submission advocated for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) to underpin the regional plan to ensure North Queensland protects the natural environment - one of the most important aspects of the region. The outdoor lifestyle, fresh air, unique natural landscapes, the Great Barrier Reef and National Parks are all important to North Queenslanders. NQCC also took the opportunity to re-state that the 4,900 hectares site that is the Townsville State Development Area (TSDA) is not an appropriate location for low to high density industrial activity (covering Nationally Significant Wetland, areas utilised by numerous shorebirds and in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and Ramsar sites).
NQCC is grateful to its members who took the time to provide feedback. It was a great example of NQCC making community engagement more accessible on what can be cumbersome government processes. Member feedback was incorporated in the submission which was submitted in November 2019.