The Inland Rail project team is consulting with landowners and stakeholders for the border to Gowrie railway alignment environmental impact statement (EIS).
Inland Rail Project Director North Rob McNamara said the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is looking to make a submission to the Queensland Office of the Coordinator General by the end of the year.
“We are reaching a very crucial, but sensitive stage of the project, having now reached the time for 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, have reduced the number of landowners potentially affected from 1300 to around 200.”
According to Mr. McNamara, the ARTC has worked closely with affected landholders and the community over the past 18 months.
“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,” Mr. McNamara said.
“The final alignment is based upon extensive field studies, detailed environmental investigations and extensive consultation with communities and landholders.”
Mr. McNamara said ARTC’s project delivery team is now 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,” Mr. McNamara 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.