NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Located between Sydney and Brisbane, with strong transport links to Newcastle and South East Queensland, the New England North West is well positioned to access domestic and international markets. The freight network’s efficiency influences the productivity of agriculture, manufacturing and natural resource sectors.

Freight and logistics industries will be a focus for investment to grow social and economic ties across communities and borders. Investment, integration and alignment of road, rail, port, utility and airport infrastructure will foster emerging industries.

Protecting transport assets and expanding export-related and value-adding industries will encourage investment, attract industry and provide certainty to industries.

Stronger links and relationships across communities and borders will provide access to services and markets in the Hunter and South East Queensland.

Transport for NSW’s Future Transport Strategy will include comprehensive engagement with the community and industry across NSW to understand and address local needs.

The coordination and provision of cost effective utility and local infrastructure will support the quality and diversity of lifestyles on offer in the region and enable the timely and affordable release of land for development.

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Direction 13 – Expand emerging industries through freight and logistics connectivity

The region is uniquely positioned to leverage opportunities associated with growing global and domestic markets. Port Botany at Sydney, Port Waratah at Newcastle, the Port of Brisbane, Brisbane International Airport and Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba are global gateways for industries and businesses. Work to provide capacity for international freight at Tamworth Regional Airport is also underway.

Enhanced cross-border connectivity between NSW and Queensland will accommodate the forecast growth of freight movements into the Darling Downs, Toowoomba and Port of Brisbane.

The proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail has the potential to reshape freight movements. The 2010 Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail Alignment Study, prepared by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), identified the preferred corridor for inland rail, passing through Narrabri and Moree. The fine-scale alignment of the corridor is yet to be settled, and planning, engineering design and assessment will be finalised by the Australian Government and ARTC. The NSW Government will work with councils and the Australian Government during this period.

Growth in containerised freight of grain and meat products could require new intermodal terminals and supporting rail infrastructure. Narrabri, Moree and Tamworth support existing and proposed intermodal terminals and will continue to be significant areas for outbound containerised freight.7

Any new freight and logistics hubs and intermodals must be close to freight network corridors and infrastructure. These assets should also be protected from urban encroachment and incompatible land uses to protect freight and cargo handling capacity.

Narrabri Shire Council is developing a transport and manufacturing hub master plan that will take advantage of existing intermodal facilities and investment in rail and natural gas infrastructure.

New England North West freight task

More than 13.6 million tonnes of freight moves through the New England North West every year,8 mainly by road, with rail used to transport coal and grains to the Port of Newcastle and Port Botany.

Agriculture and coal makes up much of the outbound freight task with movements to Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney. The movement of agricultural commodities (including bulk grain, cotton, wool, horticulture and fresh produce) is forecast to grow between one and three per cent each year, while substantial growth in refrigerated truck transport is expected over the next five years.

Ongoing highway upgrades will enable safer and faster travel times for the movement of freight.

A number of the freight issues affecting agricultural producers arise outside the New England North West, including access, load scheduling and capacity at port facilities. The NSW Freight and Ports Strategy aims to grow port capacity to match commodity throughput demands and improve agricultural export opportunities.

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13.1 Implement local planning controls to protect freight and logistics facilities from encroachment of sensitive land uses.

13.2 Work with the Australian Government and councils as the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Corridor project progresses.

13.3 Integrate cross-border transport planning between NSW and Queensland.

13.4 Locate freight and logistics facilities to maximise existing infrastructure, support future industrial development and capitalise on inter-regional connections and external markets.

Direction 14 – Enhance transport and infrastructure networks

NSW’s freight volumes are projected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.9 A large share of this growth is expected in the New England North West. The region needs to enhance the quality, capacity and efficiency of freight, transport and infrastructure networks to move more freight and to better connect local producers and suppliers.

The Hunter Valley rail network transports coal from the Gunnedah Basin and agricultural produce to the Port of Newcastle. Coal dominates the rail freight network and the industry funds improved track and network capacity. The NSW Government will continue to explore opportunities for a suitable second freight route across the rail line at Gunnedah as part of the Bridges for the Bush Program.

Corridor strategies for State roads identify connectivity improvements to consistently manage and plan the State road network. The Newell Highway Corridor Strategy (2015) outlines the investment priorities to develop, manage and maintain the Newell Highway. Corridor strategies for the New England, Oxley, Kamilaroi and Gwydir highways are also being prepared. The strategies will respond to current and future challenges and issues, and set short-medium and long-term priorities and actions.

Limiting inappropriate development along existing and proposed transport corridors will protect productivity and safety. The location of existing and proposed utility or other infrastructure, including pipeline infrastructure, should be considered in relation to sites proposed for urban land release to avoid any conflict or encroachment that would compromise distribution networks.

The Newell Highway is the eastern limit for road trains, however, concessional access extends to Gunnedah and Inverell.10 The Namoi Joint Organisation of Councils is undertaking further analysis to identify infrastructure constraints and impediments to extending the road train network to additional centres.

Local roads play a vital role in connecting communities and freight movements. Some local roads are failing under the pressure of freight movements, or limit the ability to move freight due to their condition or alignment. Local pinch points limit connections with the State and national road network and hinder productivity. The NSW Government will help councils to prioritise a rolling program of works to upgrade and improve local roads.

The NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads and Bridges for the Bush programs fund vital road and bridge upgrades to better connect local and regional roads to highways and freight hubs such as silos, saleyards, rail heads, supermarket distribution centres, industrial parks and depots.

Agricultural Freight Network

Click to enlarge.

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14.1 Protect freight and utility infrastructure and corridors through local plans and strategies to protect network opportunities and distribution from incompatible land uses or land fragmentation.

14.2 Minimise the impact of development on the regional and State road network and rail corridors by identifying buffer and mitigation measures.

14.3 Support councils to investigate opportunities to provide greater access for high productivity vehicles.

14.4 Prioritise projects that address impediments to the regional freight network and work with stakeholders to upgrade transport network capacity as demand changes.

Direction 15 – Facilitate air and public transport infrastructure

Regional airports are important gateways for business, tourism and personal travel and high value freight. They also provide services for fly-in fly-out workers and access to specialist health, education and commercial facilities.

Local growth management strategies should investigate opportunities for compatible and complementary aviation–related industries on land adjoining airports. Airport facility operations must not be impeded by the encroachment of incompatible development and retail and bulky goods uses must be avoided in these areas.

The NSW Government does not support changes to protections for existing regional flights to Sydney Airport, noting the importance of this access to regional communities. Continued access to South East Queensland via Brisbane Airport will also support economic and social links.

The passenger rail network connects regional cities and other centres to Newcastle and Sydney every day, while bus and coach networks connect to Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

Efficient and practical transport connections to and from surrounding settlements will improve access to health services, education and job opportunities.

Public transport connectivity to employment areas and regional services like hospitals, tertiary education campuses and regional airports must be catered for where feasible.

Transport for NSW will investigate opportunities to improve bus operations in centres and their connections with regional communities by working with bus operators to develop routes and timetables to improve services.


15.1 Promote aviation-related employment opportunities and precincts.

15.2 Protect airports from the encroachment of incompatible development.

15.3 Provide public transport to major services and employment areas where the size of the urban area has the potential to generate sufficient demand

Direction 16 – Coordinate infrastructure delivery

Urban growth must be directed to areas with infrastructure capacity, or where upgrades or new infrastructure is cost-effective.

Local growth management strategies will plan for timely and economically viable infrastructure and support proposals that minimise expenditure or duplicated services. Rezoning will only occur when proposals for land release or development demonstrate that servicing can occur from existing infrastructure or that new infrastructure can be properly funded.

Communications infrastructure facilitates local employment opportunities and satisfies day-today needs. In accordance with the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network, a fibre-ready pit and pipe network that allows for the installation of Fibre To The Premises broadband service should be considered as part of local infrastructure planning.

Infrastructure and utility providers need to identify appropriate sites and capacity to provide for water security, wastewater service capacity, electricity supply, emergency service facilities, cemeteries and crematoria.

Funding and servicing models for utility infrastructure must provide sufficient flexibility to support new industries with high energy or water needs. New models for utility infrastructure, such as cost-sharing between industries, will support and stimulate growth in agribusiness and value-added manufacturing industries, as well as other development.

To support cross-border, inter-regional and intra-regional communities, councils should collaborate across borders. This will strengthen relationships, coordinate growth and deliver infrastructure more efficiently.

The New England North West Housing and Land Monitor will detail annual rates of housing and employment land take up. This information will guide planning and investment for future infrastructure and services.


16.1 Undertake detailed infrastructure service planning to establish that land can be feasibly and economically serviced prior to rezoning.

16.2 Maximise the cost-effective and efficient use of infrastructure by focusing development on existing infrastructure or promoting co-location of new infrastructure.

16.3 Work with stakeholders and infrastructure providers to investigate funding models for utility infrastructure.

16.4 Integrate cross-border land use planning between NSW and Queensland.

Page last updated: 28/07/2022