The Cairns South State Development Area (SDA) was established to provide land for regionally significant industrial development. The SDA will facilitate economic growth and diversification of the Cairns economy as well as job creation to support the long-term needs of the Cairns region.

Declared in November 2018 and totalling 856 hectares, the Cairns South SDA is located:

  • south of Edmonton and north of Gordonvale at Wrights Creek
  • from the Bruce Highway in the west to Mackey Creek in the east
  • from France Road in the north to Hall Road in the south.

The SDA's strategic location will enable the development of industries that require large blocks of land, extended operating hours and separation from sensitive land uses. Being adjacent to the Bruce Highway and North Coast rail line, the SDA offers a key opportunity to support anticipated trends and growths in the rail freight sector, including increased volumes of freight and longer trains.

A significant portion of land within the SDA is anticipated to remain for the ongoing cultivation of sugar cane and supply to the Mulgrave Mill, act as a buffer for industry, and be retained for environmental management purposes.

Potential SDA expansion

The Coordinator-General has identified an opportunity to expand the Cairns South SDA to include land around the Mulgrave Mill at Gordonvale. The potential SDA expansion (PDF icon 325 KB) would support the Mulgrave Mill’s future diversification plans, including industrial development opportunities that value-add to the sugar refining process. The potential SDA expansion would also provide greater certainty to the sugar industry by retaining land for cane supply to the Mulgrave Mill as well as protecting the Mulgrave Mill from urban encroachment.

Preparation of a Cairns South SDA Development Scheme

A development scheme is a planning instrument specific to an SDA. It is used by the Coordinator-General to assess and decide SDA applications for development.

The Office of the Coordinator-General has prepared a draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 2.5 MB).

The draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme has been informed by engagement with key stakeholders and detailed technical analysis, including consideration of site characteristics, infrastructure and traffic requirements, and social, economic and environmental factors.

Until the development scheme has been approved by Governor in Council, land use planning decisions will continue to be regulated in accordance with the current planning framework. Contact the Cairns Regional Council for more information.

Public consultation

The Coordinator-General invited the public to have their say on the potential SDA expansion (PDF icon 352 KB) and draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 2.5 MB).

Public consultation commenced on 10 September 2019 and concluded on 11 October 2019.

The Coordinator-General is currently reviewing submissions made during the public consultation period prior to the government’s consideration of the potential SDA expansion and draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme.

The Cairns South SDA map

The Cairns South SDA regulation map (PDF icon 526 KB) defines the boundary of the SDA.

The interactive map below identifies the potential SDA expansion and the proposed development precincts in the draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme.

Further information

For further information on the Cairns South SDA contact the SDA Division on 1800 001 048 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.