Skip to content

Wide Bay Burnett regional plan

The Wide Bay Burnett region’s economic drivers are in the agriculture, manufacturing and renewable energy sectors. As the gateway to the southern Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island, tourism is also an important economic driver.

Region at a glance

  • 302,105 people

  • 128,909 dwellings

  • 111,362 Jobs

The region includes the local government areas of:

  • Bundaberg Regional Council
  • Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council
  • Fraser Coast Regional Council
  • Gympie Regional Council
  • North Burnett Regional Council
  • South Burnett Regional Council.

As of 2020, the Wide Bay Burnett region was home to 302, 105 people and, with an enviable lifestyle, we expect more people to call the area home in the future.

The current Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan (2011) is being reviewed to ensure it best reflects the Queensland Government’s strategic direction for managing population growth and regional development.

The Wide Bay Burnett regional plan review will also deliver a strengthened economic focus. This supports economic recovery, resilience and growth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also highlights the opportunities for the region over the next 25 years.

The review will represent the latest example of next generation regional planning in Queensland, aligning economic strategy with long-term land use and infrastructure planning.

The strengthened economic focus will look at creating jobs, backing small businesses to support jobs and communities, supporting key industries such as tourism and agriculture and providing more Queenslanders with access to the skills and training they need for rewarding careers.

The new Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan will:

  • provide direction for local government in preparing local  plans
  • inform major planning and infrastructure documents developed by government agencies
  • set a long-term vision for the region and community aspirations on lifestyle improvements and economic growth
  • capitalise on major strategic investments by planning how these can continue to be used as advantages into the future
  • collaborate with local governments to address region-specific issues and develop a framework to respond to challenges and opportunities.

Progress on the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan review

In early 2020 the regional community was invited to participate in a consultation program to gather ideas that will be considered in drafting the new regional plan.

Find out more about the ideas gathering process.

Community members will be invited to have their say on the draft Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan when released in the coming months.

The Queensland Government has also made a targeted amendment to the regional plan to bring forward economic opportunities.

Changes to the regional plan for Gympie

New resource exploration in the Gympie area is now possible after the Queensland Government made changes to the Wide Bay Burnett regional plan.

While the change allows for economic opportunities, new protections have been put in place to limit impacts of future resource exploration on the township of Gympie.

The new protections have brought forward the replacement of existing temporary restrictions, which were to be removed as part of a broader review of the Wide Bay Burnett regional plan later in the year.

The community provided feedback on the proposed change which has now been made as an addendum ( 603.3 KB) to the current regional plan.

Frequently asked questions

  • Gympie has a gold mining history dating back to the late 1800s and over time, to protect the town centre from increasing mining exploration activities, certain measures were put in place which limited the potential to explore new mining opportunities in parts of the region.

    Gympie’s township and surrounding areas were subject to a declaration known as Restricted Area 384 under the Mineral Resources Act 1989, which restricted new mining and gas exploration permits within the area.

    These measures were only meant to be temporary and were to be removed when the Wide Bay Burnett regional plan was reviewed. That review is now underway.

  • Since the Regional Planning Interest Act 2014 came into effect, it has been the process in Queensland to review, and where appropriate, replace the temporary Restricted Area 384 (RA384) designations with Priority Living Areas through the review of regional plans.

    However, not all RA384 designated areas become Priority Living Areas and areas not previously covered by the RA384 designation may be mapped as a Priority Living Area for a regional plan.

  • The change to the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan sees the area mapped as a Priority Living Area under the Regional Planning Interest Act 2014, providing a mechanism to:

    • protect the liveability of the Gympie township from impacts of resource activity
    • provide opportunities for community feedback on proposed activities.
  • The amendment only relates to the Gympie township. View a map of the boundaries.

  • The change to the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan comes ahead of a broader review of the regional plan which is expected later in 2022. The decision to proceed with the targeted amendment now, rather than wait for the broader review, is to ensure any economic benefits from proposed mining exploration activities can be expedited.

  • Information on these resource tenements can be found at Resource tenements.

  • Restricted Area 384 (RA384) was a Queensland Government response to community concerns in 2011 about increasing competition between mining exploration activities and the development of town centres. This measure was only ever to be an interim solution.

    RA384 prohibited new applications for mineral exploration in the mapped area. This restriction was still applied to the Gympie township and prohibited new exploration permits. However, applicants could apply for new or operate existing mining leases or mineral development licences. These are different to an exploration permit.

  • Areas declared under Restricted Area 384 (RA384) are not mapped in regional plans. The RA384 was made under the Mineral Resources Act 1989. Regional plans are made under the Planning Act 2016 (or previous planning legislation) and mining activities are excluded from the application of the Planning Act 2016.

    RA384 can be viewed via the GeoResGlobe under ‘Constrained Areas’.

  • Currently, a resource tenement and (generally) an environmental authority are required. This remains the same under the changes; however, an additional approval is required.

    A regional interests development approval (RIDA) is now needed for ‘resource activities within a Priority Living Area’ under the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014. A RIDA is a land use or planning approval which ensures the location, nature and conduct of the resource activity is compatible with the planned future for the area.

    Additional approvals (e.g., damage mitigation permits, water licence) may also be required depending on the nature of the resource activity.

  • Yes, new or amendments to an existing mining activity can be approved. This would require the following approvals:

    1. a resource tenement (e.g., exploration permit, mineral development license or mining lease) under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 for the rights to the minerals, and
    2. an environmental authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1999 to manage any environmental impacts (unless the activity meets the criteria for a small-scale mining activity.

    However, Restricted Area 384 prohibited new applications for exploration permits under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 for coal, mineral or coal seam gas in the mapped area over Gympie. RA384 did not affect the ability of an applicant to seek new mineral development licences or mining leases within the mapped area (see previous question above for further an explanation of the various licences and permits and what they mean).

  • Yes, the community and local government can have their say under the changes.

    Gympie township has now been mapped under  a Priority Living Area (PLA). This means a regional interests development approval (RIDA) application for new or changes to current resource activities in the Priority Living Area will be needed under the changes.

    These applications must be publicly notified, unless the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning provides an exemption (e.g. where a resource activity has undergone a publicly notified environmental impact statement (EIS) process and this process also addressed PLA requirements). This will provide the community and local government with an opportunity to provide feedback on the application proposal.

    Environmental authority and resource tenement applications for new or changes to current activities do not automatically trigger consultation with the local government or the community. This will depend on whether the activities are considered significant or if the proponent can comply with the standard conditions.

  • Yes, under the changes an applicant must obtain all three approvals for a new resource activity regardless of whether it is for exploration or production activities:

    1. resource tenement
    2. an environmental authority (unless the activity meets the criteria for a small-scale mining activity
    3. regional interests development approval (RIDA).

    If a RIDA is not approved, then the activity cannot go ahead even if a resource tenement and environmental authority are approved.

  • No, the decisions are made by the state government.

    Decisions on regional interests development approval

    These are made by the Chief Executive of the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. However, Gympie Regional Council has a formal role in assessing any application where it involves an area mapped as a Priority Living Area (PLA).

    In these situations, Gympie Regional Council assesses the application against the policies in the amendment (when finalised) and provides a recommendation to the Chief Executive. If Council was to recommend refusal of a proposed resource activity in the PLA and the Chief Executive decided to approve the application, the Chief Executive must publish a statement of reasons in relation to the Council’s recommendation.

    Decisions on resource tenements

    These are made by the Minister for Resources and Gympie Regional Council has no formal role in the process.

    Decisions on environmental authorities for resource activities

    These are made by the Department of Environment and Science and Gympie Regional Council has no formal role in the process.

Last updated: 25 May 2022