Workers' camp to blow out town 50%

SLEEPY Springsure's population could effectively explode by 50% overnight if the Central Highlands council grants approval to a 416-unit workers' accommodation camp.

After bedding down in other Bowen Basin resource towns, the contentious camps are launching an invasion on Emerald and surrounds, with development applications for 2000 units soon to come before the Central Highlands council, and another 3000 for Blackwater.

A clear reflection of the buoyant state of the coal sector, Development Services manager Luke Lankowski revealed the extent of industry activity at a recent meeting.

After a slow first quarter, 152 development applications have been lodged with the CHRC, which Mr Lankowski said was the "highest level of town planning activity on record for the department" in a calendar year.

He described the Springsure camp as major for its potential

impact on the town. "That is obviously going to be a significant issue because the population of Springsure is about 1000, so a camp this size is essentially halving the size of the town again," Mr Lankowski said of the development proposed by local grazier, Lex Iker, who has built similar style accommodation in Emerald.

Mr Lankowski said his department wasn't dealing with the usual flow of single dwelling and dual occupancy applications.

The bulk of the new projects dealt with multiple unit developments, larger subdivisions and camps.

"There have been discussions with a number of other companies and it is largely workers accommodation we are talking about at the moment," he said.

"In Blackwater there is 3000-plus being proposed and over 2000-plus in Emerald for different projects.

"There have been pre-lodgement meetings…a meeting with a workers accommodation developer of a motel and commercial precinct.

"Other projects have been discussed with council officers in relation to camps.

"These proposals are yet to result in the lodgement of any development application."

Mayor Peter Maguire conceded the march of camps into Emerald and surrounds was inevitable.

"Yes, in my view, the camps are inevitable," he said.

"What I would like to see done to minimise the impact is companies to give people a choice about whether they want to be FIFO, DIDO, or live in communities."

On the go

Other major development proposals before the Central Highlands council include:

A 1000-lot housing subdivision from Citricorp on Pilot Farm Rd is shortly due before council for approval. The first stage will release 103 lots to the market.

A 74-lot industrial lot subdivision on Bonnie Doon Rd, behind the Yamala cotton gin. Councillors are concerned the average 2000sq m lots are too small for heavy industry.

A 896-unit workers accommodation camp in Yackam Rd, Blackwater, proposed by Transpac.

"In terms of its scale, it is a significant project we're assessing at the moment," Mr Lankowski said.

"The development application will come to council in another couple of months."

Xstrata has lodged a development application for another 350 units in its existing Rolleston Mine camp, doubling its size for a planned expansion of mine output.

A 170-lot rural residential subdivision on Big John Rd. Portfolio Projects, already active in Emerald, has lodged a reconfiguration of lot application. It is an area not connected to town water.

Cuposa Pty Ltd has asked to extend the time limit to start building a $6m tavern in Capella.

"It appears to be going in the right direction to something," Mr Lankowski said.

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