The Inland Rail project team is consulting the landowners and stakeholders for the border to Gowrie section of the railway alignment it will then take to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.
Inland Rail Project Director (North), Rob McNamara, said that the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) was looking to make a submission to the Queensland Office of the Coordinator General by the end of the year and was currently working through final details with a number of landholders on the alignment.
“We are reaching a very crucial, but sensitive stage of the project, having now reached the alignment to be submitted to the Office of the Coordinator General for examination under the EIS process,” Mr McNamara said.
“We started with a study corridor of up to five kilometres wide in some areas, and through a lengthy and comprehensive assessment and consultation process we have reduced the number of landowners potentially affected from 1300 to around 200.
“We have worked closely with affected landholders and the community over the past 18 months so we can deliver the best possible line we can. We are now preparing to submit our alignment based on the information we have gathered from the community combined with the best engineering solutions.
“We have tried from the outset to minimise impacts on landholders and the environment, deliver a value-for-money project for taxpayers and design the best rail line we could. The final alignment is based upon extensive field studies, detailed environmental investigations and extensive consultation with communities and landholders.
“We engaged with experts and spent time with local residents to develop a deep understanding of the Condamine Floodplain, and we are confident that we have solutions that will work and that will take on board the lessons from recent major flooding events.”
Mr McNamara said ARTC’s project delivery team was making individual contact with affected landowners to discuss the final alignment.
“Communication and consultation are the cornerstones of Inland Rail. For some landowners, this is a difficult process and we are focused on working closely with them to give them as much certainty as we can, as soon as we can, around the process and the alignment,” he said.
“I acknowledge that not everybody is happy with the outcome, but I think there is consensus that the process, which works through technically complex and emotional issues to take on board stakeholder feedback, has been fair; and we have arrived at the best solution possible.”
The Queensland Coordinator-General will evaluate the EIS submission against the terms of reference as well as economic and social impacts, and seek formal submissions from landowners and the community about the project.
“Inland Rail will continue to work with the community by providing information on how to make formal submissions as part of the EIS process. The EIS will play a critical role in identifying, predicting, assessing, evaluating and mitigating the environmental, social, economic and other relevant effects as well as potential opportunities and benefits of the Inland Rail,” Mr McNamara said.
Mr McNamara said there was still 18 months to two years to go before construction begins.
“We are committed to taking the community with us every step of the way. We are encouraging those affected to continue to work with us to get the best outcomes possible,” he said.
“Inland Rail will inject $6 billion into Queensland over the course of its construction and generate around 7200 jobs, many of these in regional communities along the alignment. We are working with the community to get the best outcomes we can in terms of design and positive opportunities.”
To support consultation activities, Inland Rail this week released an updated Border to Gowrie interactive map, which allows users to add location-based questions, comments and feedback.
The map can be found here.