Central West and Orana - the heartland of our State
With 80 per cent of Australia’s population within 12 hours by road or rail of the Central West and Orana belt, the boosting the region is a key priority for the Nationals.
Last week the NSW Government released its Central West and Orana Regional Plan, which was developed to facilitate the projected shape and demographics of the region in 2036. The Plan outlined four broad goals: a diverse economy, healthy environment, vibrant communities and quality infrastructure. With this locally targeted and goal orientated plan for the heartland of our State, there has never been a better time to be a proud resident of the Central West and Orana.
The Plan outlines and individualised proposals for each of the Local Government Areas (LGA) in the Central West and Orana and is designed to coordinate the NSW Government’s vision with the local knowledge, issues and needs of the Central West LGAs – Lachlan, Parkes, Forbes, Weddin, Cowra, Cabonne, Orange, Blaney, Bathurst Regional, Oberon and Lithgow – and those in the Orana – Bogan, Warren, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Warrumbungle, Narromine and Dubbo Regional. It will be administered by the Central West and Orana Delivery, Coordination and Monitoring Committee who will deliver annual reports, ensure the plan aligns with local proposals and can modify the processes and goals if or when the need arises.
With the Central West and Orana projected to have the most varied economy in the state by 2036, long-range development strategies are vital to growing the regions, particularly in the renewable energy, mining, health and education sectors.
The region is projected to grow by 300,000 people by 2036, requiring at a minimum 15,800 new residences to accommodate this growth. With projected growth the highest in Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Lithgow, Mudgee, Cowra, Parkes and Forbes, the Plan has been designed to guide LGA planning developments in these areas on a city-by-city level, with emphasis on tying overarching policy to on-the-ground community needs.
Strategies have also been developed to manage mining and renewable energy in the Central West and Orana. Mining is projected to continue employing approximately five per cent of the workforce while renewable energy has the capacity to become a major new employer given the region’s geography, with a 223-wind turbine facility proposed for the Warrumbungles, adding to the solar farm already in motion in Bogan Shire.
Tourism is also part of the vision for the Central West and Orana, with cool climate tourism – already a major success in Orange and Mudgee – to be expanded. The key attractions of Taronga Western Plains and Bathurst motorsport are projected to pull in over 200,000 visitors each per year.
While the region is projected to be relatively youthful with 75% of the population under 65 in 2036, the need to expand the health, social and aged care sectors is also a priority. Already completed is the $243 million redevelopment of Dubbo Base and the $60 million Mudgee Hospital upgrade.
Key to unlocking the economic potential of the area is infrastructure, and more specifically, how the Central West and Orana can capitalise on the Commonwealth Government’s infrastructure strategy and the region’s proximity to the cities of Canberra and Sydney.
The Plan is clear. The Inland Rail – pushed for and won thanks to a decade of campaigning by the Nationals – has the potential to transform the Central West and Orana. With the Central West already a freight corridor, there is potential to make the region the key North-South corridor in NSW by leveraging the agricultural productivity of the Orana and investing in local rail upgrades. This proposal is supported by the $400 million for regional rail released last month by the Government, with areas like Narromine already expanding their rail capabilities. With the double-stacked container capacity of the Trans-Australian Rail converging with the capacity of Inland Rail in Parkes by 2025, the industrial, agricultural and commercial opportunities provided by this continental rail network are unlike anything NSW has previously experienced. These opportunities combined with the doubling of our state’s freight load by 2030 and the proximity of the Central West to Sydney ports and airports, our productive heartland will become the engine room of the NSW.
Not for generations has the Central West and Orana seen such an opportunity to thrive.
To read the full 88 page report, go to http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/~/media/Files/DPE/Plans-and-policies/central-west-and-orana-regional-plan-2017-06.ashx
For more information about line-of-sight LGA planning, go to http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/~/media/Files/DPE/Other/summary-of-proposals-2017-01-09.ashx