Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire.
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire.

Mines camps to benefit communities

COUNCIL planning schemes will incorporate stringent measures to ensure mining camp developments benefit communities and contribute economically.

The three-pronged alliance between the Central Highlands, Barcaldine and Isaac councils has formed a clear vision and will send a message to the State Government that those on the ground in local communities are in the best position to design and plan for their towns.

Wednesday's meeting in Clermont was the first under the Planning Strategy for Non-Resident Worker Accommodation taskforce, which Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said set the foundations for a united approach.

"It is about looking at an approach to planning for our communities," Cr Maguire said.

Cr Maguire said the meeting drew on the experience of the booming Western Australian Pilbara region and said understanding the approach taken by the resource-rich region would enable Bowen and Galilee basin communities to see what had worked and what hadn't.

"Each council needs to go about their own communities, large and small, in different ways," he said.

"Moranbah and Blackwater are a bit different because they have the ULDA there, but the councils are due to get back the planning responsibilities for those towns at some stage and we'll need to work through that."

The major beneficiaries stand to be the residents in each of the mining towns under the new alliance, Cr Maguire said, and the united approach would send a stronger message to resource companies.

"I think if we all get on the same song sheet for the future, the community and their proponents will benefit," he said.

"In the Pilbara, the councils want to integrate camps into the community and, with such big growth in terms of population, eventually they (camps) will be in the centre of the town.

"But not everyone likes that model and that is the interaction we need."

The Pilbara's Roebourne Shire president Fiona White-Hartig said, despite the boom, the Western Australian mining region was struggling because of the FIFO trend.

"We are forever being told we are the powerhouse of the nation but you wouldn't know it looking at the books of the councils up here - we're dying," Ms White-Hartig told southern media.

A recent report found that about 50,000 people lived in the Pilbara on a permanent basis but an additional 31,000 worked in the region - from which the council or local area did not receive any economic benefit.

FIFO workers contributed $339 million to the WA region but, had they resided in the towns on a full-time basis, an additional $1.09 billion would have been injected to the local economy.

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