The 2010 Plan - also known as the Far North Queensland Regional Plan.

This is an over three hundred page document completed in February 2000 looking at regional planning. Its gist is that there is not enough land on the coastal strip for the expected growth and that planning has to be started for settlement of over 50000 people in Tableland areas.
The only area identified for such massive urbanisation is the larger Kuranda area which in turn gives rise to the demand of a better transport corridor to that area, the planned Kuranda Range Road "upgrade".

We believe the biggest shortcomings of the 2010 plan to be:
1) Its failure to even consider the possibility of significant settlements in Tablelands areas other than Kuranda.
2) Its assumption that over 50,000 people, which are supposed to be living in the Kuranda area can live mainly on eco-tourism.
3) Its failure to consider climate change
4) Its failure to consider 'Peak Oil'
5) The assumed population increases are unrealistically inflated

Let’s look at those issues

1) Other Tableland Areas suited for significant settlements

1a) The most obvious location of large amounts of people seems to be the Mareeba area. Mareeba is already a large township with the associated infrastructure and a large industrial area. Mareeba is situated in a much less environmentally sensitive area. A direct transport corridor through a tunnel linking Mareeba to Cairns would cut the present distance by about 20km to roughly 45km. This is comparable with most areas now earmarked for settlement and certainly an acceptable commuting distance (especially if high speed rail is used).
1b) Southern Tablelands and Innisfail. These areas can easily and relatively cheaply be opened up by providing a good quality road link from the Palmerston Highway to Mareeba. This would spread the economic advantage of development to poorer Tableland areas without risk of destroying the tourism income of the already wealthy Kuranda area.

2) 50,000 people living on tourism

The 2010 plan seems to assume that all those new Kuranda residents can live on tourism, since no other substantial industries except agriculture (most of the areas agricultural land would be used for suburbia) and construction (which cannot be long term) are mentioned.
What we ask is how many tourists would it take to feed 50,000 people? The Kuranda area now has about a million tourists each year and about 3500 residents, so we would need to attract over 10 million tourists each year. How realistic is that scenario at the same time as massive urbanisation?
And what is the environmental impact of 10 million tourists? And how much longer will tourists be able to afford long flights with continually rising oil prices?

3) Climate Change

The 2010 plan places the proposed urbanisation right next to World Heritage areas. These are some of the environmentally most sensitive areas in Australia. In this area you find some of the biggest biodiversity of the whole world with Koalas and Cassowaries, huge gumtrees and towering Kauri Pines. This magnificent flora and fauna is facing the huge threat of rising temperatures and climate change. At that very same time 2010 plans for tens of thousands of cats and dogs which are likely to decimate the now abundant wildlife and thousands of clearings for houses and infrastructure. We need to recognise that adding to the immense and very real pressures from climate change can endanger or wipe out much of our fauna and flora.

4) Peak Oil

Peak Oil means that supply of oil cannot keep up with demand. We are either experiencing peak oil right now or within the next few years.
The first consequence is increasing oil and petrol prices which we are already experiencing. With still growing demand and soon increasingly depleted oil reserves price for oil is expected to increase 5-10 fold within the next decade or two.
Since this is how long the Kuranda Range Freeway will take to construct, it is looking increasingly unlikely that many people would still be able to afford driving on it after completion.
This begs the question whether we should spend that much money on what appears to become a white elephant rather on public transport systems.
Similarly planning for car dependent sub-urbia (which 2010 does) seems to be a recipe for disaster and urban nodes with rail link might be much better long term options to consider.

5) Excessive Projected Population Growth

The lowest estimate in the 2010 plan for the projected Cairns population in 2006 is 138,910 (high estimate is 146,000) while Mareeba is estimated to have at least 20400.
Average growth for Cairns from 1999 to 2004 has been 1.5% with a population of 125,132 on 30th June 2004; Mareeba is reported to have an average growth rate of 0.3% and a population of 18,659 on 30th June 2004 (both Increasing the actual 2004 Cairns population by the experienced average of 1.5% would mean a population of 128,914 on 30th June 2006. Using the exceptionally high 2.3% increase in 2003/04, that figure would be 130,954.
In either case the real figure will be significantly lower than the lowest estimate in the 2010 plan, indicating the perceived need for large suburban development and huge transport corridors to be vastly exaggerated.

These severe shortcomings of the 2010 plan need to be addressed in a public review of the plan (or at least of the location and size of settlement areas on the northern tablelands and the associated transport infrastructure.