The Surat Basin study area covers approximately 110,000 square kilometres and includes the local government areas of Toowoomba, Western Downs and Maranoa regional councils. The vast rural area supports primary production, and resource and energy industries which utilise the Surat Basin’s modern road and rail infrastructure to enhance its inter-regional relationship with adjoining areas of strategic significance, in particular South East Queensland and Gladstone.
The communities of the Surat Basin are facing change, driven largely by major developments in the resource and energy sectors. While the Surat Basin has a strong and traditional agricultural foundation, it has significant reserves of coal seam gas and more than six billion tonnes of proven thermal coal resources which are largely undeveloped and highly suitable for electricity generation.
To enable the continued exploration and development of the resource rich Surat Basin, the communities must be strong, environmentally responsive and able to positively adapt to the changes. To support sustainable growth and address the needs of the community in that area, the department released a draft Surat Basin Regional Planning Framework and draft Resource Town Housing Affordability Strategy for public consultation late in 2010. Following consideration of all submissions the documents were finalised and in July 2011 the government released the final Surat Basin Regional Planning Framework ( 2 MB), and the Surat Basin Resource Town Housing Affordability Strategy ( 952 KB).
The purpose of the Surat Basin Regional Planning Framework is to sustainably manage regional growth in the area by setting directions and principles to inform future decision making and policy. It aims to align federal, state and local government regional planning agendas and policies for land-use planning, service delivery and infrastructure provision in the Surat Basin.
The Surat Basin Resource Town Housing Affordability Strategy contains a series of actions to ensure timely housing supply and demand is adequately monitored and supported. A representative stakeholder body will monitor housing affordability trends in the region and also monitor implementation of the strategy actions.
Both documents are initiatives of the Surat Basin Future Directions Statement, 2010 - a government commitment to the Sustainable Resource Communities Policy - Social impact assessment in the mining and petroleum industries, 2008.
People who live and work in the Surat Basin face a number of challenges and opportunities including:
- managing the cyclical nature of mining industry development in a way that complements other industry sectors
- protecting the natural environment
- positioning Surat Basin to take advantage of renewable energy resources
- encouraging economic diversity to maintain balanced growth, especially in agriculture
- providing social and economic opportunities to encourage people to remain and return to the area
- meeting growing energy and water demands
- managing potential long-term population decline in the non-mining parts of the region
- adapting to impacts of oil dependency
- adapting to long-term uncertainty regarding climate change
- attracting and retaining skilled workers and residents
- providing opportunities for young people who have traditionally migrated to large urban centres
- developing strategic guidance for infrastructure provision
- accessing and providing essential services to smaller towns and centres.