Urban Land and Infrastructure
According to the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics approximately 5,086 hectares of the NAR is classed as ‘built up area’. Urban development is concentrated around Geraldton, with a number of smaller coastal settlements up and down the coast and agricultural towns inland. Urban land includes human-made surroundings that provide the spaces and places for people to live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis. The built environment includes supporting infrastructure, such as water supply, energy, telecommunications, waste management and transport infrastructure.
Urban land and infrastructure put pressure on the natural resources of the region through direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity, water resources, coastal areas and air quality.
Several major road arteries through the region provide separate links between Perth and major rural centres (for example the Brand Highway, the Midlands Road and the Great Northern Highway). Road verges are frequently wide and often exhibit high biodiversity values, such that the management of roads is a key consideration in natural resource management.
Bulk haulage of grain, fertiliser, mineral sands, talc, iron ore and industrial chemicals are handled by rail in many parts of the region however there are no passenger rail services. There are two main railway lines running north/south through the region, both linking with Narngulu near Geraldton, then on to the Geraldton Port. Planning is being undertaken to develop a linkage between the proposed port of Oakajee, the Pilbara and Esperance.
The only port in the region is at Geraldton, which handles imports of mainly phosphorous, urea and petroleum products and exports including iron ore, grains, lupins, mineral sands, talc, garnet, livestock, copper and zinc. Over 15 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Geraldton Port during the 2012-2013 financial year, a significant increase from the 3 million tonnes of cargo that moved through the port in 2005.
The region’s principal airport is located near Geraldton although most towns in the region have airport facilities for small craft (Visit Geraldton Airport for more information).
The NAR contains renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, wave, geothermal and biomass. Although power is largely generated external to the region and delivered via an interconnected grid from the Bunbury, Muja and Kwinana coal ﬁred power stations, this system is supplemented by energy generated from the region’s wind farms and solar farms. Isolated towns also use alternative power sources, such as diesel generators, and at Kalbarri, solar power is used.