The Cairns South State Development Area (SDA) was established to provide land for regionally significant industrial development. Declared in November 2018 and varied in February 2020, the 1159-hectare Cairns South SDA is located over two separate areas. 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.

The northern part of the Cairns South SDA is located east of the Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale at Wrights Creek and 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 Line, this part of 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.

The southern part of the SDA is located adjacent to the Mulgrave Mill in Gordonvale and will support future diversification plans for the Mulgrave Mill, including industrial development opportunities that value-add to the sugar refining process.

A significant portion of land in the SDA across both areas is intended for the ongoing cultivation of sugar cane and supply to the Mulgrave Mill, to act as a buffer for industry, protect the Mulgrave Mill from the pressures of urban encroachment, or for environmental management purposes.

Cairns South SDA Development Scheme approved

The Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 536 KB) came into effect on 13 March 2020 following a comprehensive assessment of development opportunities and constraints, stakeholder engagement, public consultation and thorough review and analysis of all submissions received.

The development scheme seeks to:

Public consultation

The Coordinator-General invited the public to have their say on the potential SDA expansion around the Mulgrave Mill in Gordonvale and the draft Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 2.5 MB) from 10 September 2019 to 11 October 2019.

Following public consultation and consideration of submissions:

View the Summary of public consultation (PDF icon 187 KB) for an overview of the matters considered in response to the consultation.

Benefits of the Cairns South SDA

The Cairns South SDA provides benefits to business and industry looking to invest in Queensland such as:

The Cairns South SDA supports economic growth and employment opportunities in the Far North Queensland region in a way that considers environmental, cultural, and social issues as well as existing land uses and surrounding infrastructure.

The Cairns South SDA Development Scheme

The Cairns South SDA Development Scheme (PDF icon 536 KB) is a regulatory document that controls planning and development in the Cairns South SDA. It was approved by the Governor in Council in March 2020.

The development scheme contains a development assessment framework for making, assessing and deciding applications and requests relating to development in the Cairns South SDA. The most common of these is an SDA application for a material change of use.

The development scheme is supported by a public consultation policy (PDF icon 66 KB) that provides information on matters the Coordinator-General may consider when determining whether public consultation of an SDA application is required.

The Cairns South SDA maps and targeted land use precincts


Land ownership

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..

For further information on SDAs, refer to our general fact sheets and guidelines.