The Draft New England North West Regional Plan applies to 12 local government areas – Tenterfield, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Armidale Regional, Uralla, Walcha, Gwydir, Tamworth Regional, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Moree Plains.
The region encompasses the traditional lands of the Anaiwan, Banbai, Bundjalung, Githabul, Gumbaynggirr, Kamilaroi, Kwaimbul, Ngoorabal and Dunghutti peoples.
This is a region of diverse landscapes, including rainforest-covered volcanic plateaus and escarpments, alpine communities on the Great Dividing Range, remnant inland forests, wetlands of national and international significance, diverse grasslands and productive wide open slopes and plains. These landscapes underpin a quarter of the State’s agricultural output, represent the State’s third largest coal reserves and include significant biodiversity.
The New England North West has a strong and growing economy that is valued at almost $8.9 billion and supports almost 67,000 jobs. The economy grew by 5.1 per cent between 2006 and 2013, which is higher than the 4.8 per cent growth rate for regional NSW over the same period.1
The agricultural and natural resource sectors are at the centre of this region’s economic future. Total agricultural activities contribute around $2.5 billion to the NSW and national economy,2 making the region one of the State’s most significant agricultural producers. Mineral and energy resources contribute in the order of $1.7 billion to the region. The development of these resources, in appropriate locations, will provide more local job opportunities and expand mining-related services. As a prime location for wind and solar power, the region has the potential to be a leader in renewable energy generation.
Over the next 20 years to 2036, the population is expected to grow by 13,800 to over 202,000. The two regional cities, Tamworth and Armidale, will support over half the region’s population by 2036 and their development will help to drive growth for the region. A further 28 per cent of the population will reside in the four strategic centres of Inverell, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Moree.3
The service sectors located in urban centres are important to the economic prosperity of the region, representing almost two-thirds of employment and almost half of the output of the region. The health and education sectors account for 24 per cent of the workforce and will continue to grow and expand.4
Located between Sydney and Brisbane, with good transport connections to Newcastle and South East Queensland, the region is well located to access both domestic and international markets. Producers can choose to move goods north to Brisbane, or south-east to Newcastle and Sydney. The movement of coal dominates the rail freight network. Freight movements generated by the coal industry are funding improved access along the Hunter Valley Coal Chain.
This draft Plan promotes a holistic approach to land, environmental, water and natural resource management. It aims to maintain the productive capacity of natural resources, improve the agriculture sector’s capacity to cope with changes in markets and weather patterns, and maintain and preserve areas of high environmental value, water catchments and heritage. It provides an overarching framework to guide development and investment in the New England North West to 2036. The draft Plan consolidates strategic planning considerations for land use and infrastructure for the local government areas of the New England North West. Once the plan is finalised, it will replace the New England North West Strategic Regional Land Use Plan, released by the NSW Government in 2012. The relevant policies will continue to apply and are addressed in this draft plan.