As part of its first annual Sustainability Report, Inland Rail has set out a plan to incorporate environmental, sustainability and cultural targets into the project’s delivery.
Inland Rail is a major project that aims to enhance supply chains and complete the backbone of the national freight network by providing for a transit time of 24 hours or less for freight trains between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
It is Australia’s largest freight rail infrastructure project and is being built in some of the country’s most complex environments.
Inland Rail Director Engagement and Environment, Rebecca Pickering, said setting a sustainable culture at Inland Rail creates the unique opportunity to exceed new world-class benchmarks and standards in environmental and socio-economic performance.
“We are committed to industry leadership in sustainable design, construction and operation, and we will report sustainability performance of the Inland Rail Program across the delivery cycle,” Ms Pickering said.
Inland Rail is aiming to establish a new sustainability benchmark for environmental and socio-economic performance for the rail industry more widely.
Its plan to target social sustainability involves gaining community acceptance and supporting community aspirations for the long term.
“One example is Inland Rail establishing a Skills Academy program which is expected to make a positive and long-lasting contribution to skill development and employment prospects,” Ms Pickering said.
Employment and Indigenous engagement targets
As part of Inland Rail’s commitment to community health and wellbeing, targets are in place to employ local workers and reduce the need for non-resident workers, creating opportunities for the development of skilled local and Indigenous workers.
It also aims to support Indigenous businesses to ensure they are prepared for and provided with opportunities to participate in Inland Rail.
As part of this commitment, Inland Rail has engaged two dedicated Indigenous Participation Advisors located in regional towns near the alignment, focused on liaising with Indigenous communities and assisting them to be ready for Inland Rail by building skills and business capacity.
Inland Rail has also set targets to protect biodiversity, and enhance local environment and heritage.
“Inland Rail Cultural Heritage surveys have discovered numerous artefacts, scarred trees and sites of significance to Aboriginal people. We have established an intricate ‘Care and Control’ process for the ongoing protection of these artefacts,” Ms Pickering said.
“Establishing a sustainability culture empowers team members to make good decisions and highlights the positive impact that these decisions can have on communities, the environment, the wider supply chain and industry.
“Economically, we can be more sustainable through the productive and efficient use of resources to deliver whole-of-life cost savings and sustainability benefits for the long term.”
Ms Pickering said Inland Rail is being built for climate change resilience, reducing new material use and maximising the use of existing materials. It is committed to using non-potable and low quality water wherever possible during construction and minimising water use through planning and innovation.
Major suppliers also need to demonstrate evidence of their environmental and sustainability policies, use sustainability metrics during tender evaluation and maximise the program-wide reuse of existing materials across the project.
“Inland Rail also aims to support regional manufacturers and suppliers where possible, leaving a sustainable legacy in the communities we live and work in,” Ms Pickering said.
For more information, view the Inland Rail Sustainability Report.