Locals learn about Far West Regional Plan

NSW Government Office of Planning & Environment’s Azaria Dobson with local residents Michael Zannes, Jane Siermans & John Stingemore and Megan Dixon from RDA Orana at last Thursday’s Far West Regional Plan information session at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club.

Local residents had the chance to ask questions about the Draft Far West Regional Plan at an information session at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club on Thursday night.

Azaria Dobson, manager of regional growth and planning from the NSW Government Office of Planning & Environment in Dubbo  gave a brief overview of the 75 page plan before taking questions from interested community members.

Ms Dobson stressed that the plan was a different matter to the Far West Initiative however should the Far West Initiative come into effect, then they would be the governing body responsible for implementing the actions outlined in the Far West Regional plan.

She said it is a land use plan that covers the same regions/areas as the Far West Initiative.

“This plan will still continue if the Far West Initiative doesn’t go ahead,” Ms Dobson said.

She said the Far West area covers about 40 per cent of the state.

“It’s a big, big area. Your contribution to the economy is 32 per cent more than Albury or Byron Bay. You’re punching above your weight,” Ms Dobson said.

“This is the first time a regional plan has been done and it has a vision for the next 20 years.”

The plan has goals and directions as well as actions needed to achieve those visions.

Ms Dobson said information for the plan was mainly procured from each council’s economic plans.

“Councils have a better understanding of their communities than the State Government.”

Information was also taken from other documents such as Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana’s regional plan.

“One thing everyone said was that they wanted a more diverse regional economy,” Ms Dobson said.

She outlined the three goals of the Far West Plan which included: a diverse economy with efficient transport and infrastructure networks; an exceptional and distinctive natural environment; and strong and connected communities.

She stressed the plan was a best practice guidance tool for regional land use and was not “another line of red tape”.

Community members suggested amendments to the plan could include; improvements to telecommunications services; inclusion of the goat industry as a major contributor to local economies in the far west; and water security.

The plan is currently on exhibition for community consultation for another fortnight.

To view the plan or make a submission, go to www.planning.nsw.gov.au/FarWest