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The Darling Downs region has long been one of Queensland's most important agricultural assets, accounting for around a quarter of the state's agricultural production. From agriculture, the region developed into a diverse and resilient economy. Mining has also been a mainstay of the Darling Downs economy. The large reserves of thermal coal and coal seam gas in the Surat Basin continue to attract international investment.

The Darling Downs region includes the six local government areas of:

  • Balonne Shire Council
  • Goondiwindi Regional Council
  • Maranoa Regional Council
  • Southern Downs Regional Council
  • Toowoomba Regional Council
  • Western Downs Regional Council.

On 14 October 2013, the Deputy Premier and Minister of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning approved the Darling Downs Regional Plan.

The Darling Downs Regional Plan (PDF icon 6.8 MB) has been prepared with a strong focus on resolving land use competition between the agricultural and the resource sectors and driving economic development.

The policies contained in the regional plan will contribute towards the protection of strategic areas of priority agricultural land use from potentially incompatible resource activities and maximise opportunities for co-existence of resources and agricultural land use.

The regional plan also safeguards areas required for the growth of towns in the regions through the establishment of Priority Living Areas while providing for resource activities to locate within these areas where it meets communities' expectations as determined by the relevant local government.

Maps of the Priority Agricultural Areas and Priority Living Areas by local government for the Darling Downs region are available online.

The Regional Planning Interests Bill 2013 was introduced into the Queensland Parliament on 20 November 2013 by the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, the Honourable Jeff Seeney MP, and was passed on 20 March 2014.

The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (RPI Act) identifies and protects areas of Queensland that are of regional interest. In doing this, the RPI Act seeks to manage the impact and support coexistence of resource activities and other regulated activities in areas of regional interest. The RPI Act is supported by the RPI Regulation. Areas of regional interest mapped in the Darling Downs Regional Plan include priority agricultural areas and priority living areas.

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The draft Darling Downs Regional Plan (PDF icon 6.8 MB) was released for public consultation from 28 June 2013 to 20 September 2013. The submissions received during the consultation period were considered in finalising the plan.

The Darling Downs region was formally designated on 29 June 2012, with the Regional Planning Committee gazetted on 20 July 2012.

For more information contact the department.