As part of preparing the new Planning Scheme, Toowoomba Regional Council is undertaking a study about Emerging and Location-Specific Industry (ELSI).

In the last decade, industry has seen many technological advances, like the introduction of artificial intelligence and robotics, changes to production processes, shifting market demands and an increased focus on local production capabilities. As a result, any of the industries considered in the current planning scheme, will be quite different to the industries of the future.

The ELSI project seeks to ensure the Toowoomba Region can benefit from the economic input that high value industries will bring to the Region, by ensuring the new planning scheme:

  • caters for new and emerging industries (AI, robotics, waste-to-energy, bio-tech, hydrogen, batteries, medical and pharmaceutical technologies, virtual reality etc);
  • Addresses industries with special locational needs (co-location requirements with other industries, circular economies, clustered or symbiotic)
  • Ensures location-specific industries can be catered for (close to locations or resources like high pressure gas, airport, rail terminal, or those with land consumptive requirements ie vehicle testing facilities).
  • Provides best-practice approaches to facilitate and regulate industrial development;
  • provides greater certainty in terms of preferred and acceptable uses, thresholds and levels of assessment;
  • facilitates economic growth;
  • leverages major infrastructure, like the Second Rang Crossing, Wellcamp Airport and the future Inland Rail.

The study will also review the industry thresholds (the number of products manufactured, or the level of emissions produced). Thresholds can determine the level of assessment required for a particular industrial use (generally code or impact assessable). The thresholds need to be evaluated to determine what impacts on the surrounding area occur if the threshold is exceeded, and if those thresholds are still appropriate in light of technological advancements, improved processes, and automation.

Council have engaged consultants Ethos Urban to undertake this study. A further update will be provided in June 2023.