AGREEMENT on land access with Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has not been easy on the Kopp family’s Peak Hill district Merino breeding property, “Towalba”.
One of a handful of landholders among 90 people attending the Narromine NSW Farmers – Inland Rail community meeting last Wednesday, Warick Kopp (pictured on our front cover) said his family had already signed an agreement about 18 months ago, but has had lengthy negotiations since.
”It hasn’t been easy at times, but we are progressing,” he said.
While Mr Kopp understands the frustrations and possible ire of people who have discovered they are now in the Narromine to Narrabri rail corridor, the situation was different for him.
“They have not taken our land. They already own it and have the land,” he said.
“We have lived with that. We bought the farm with the track already existing, so for us it is a lot easier to progress.” ARTC level crossing engineers visited “Towalba” last Monday to go through proposed plans with Mr Kopp.
“I have problems with stock crossings, that’s our biggest issue,” he said.
The family runs a large stud and commercial Merino breeding enterprise together with winter cropping and some cattle grazing on the property divided by the existing railway.
“We looked through all the plans of all the infrastructure on our line and they haven’t submitted too much about water as yet, but said that would come later.
“I think what we have come up within our situation is not too bad and they have taken that away to come back with further plans. “But I want an underpass for my stock and the ARTC don’t want to come at that.”
He said the corporation’s reticence could be put down to finances, because raising the track higher than it is now would make it easy for sheep to pass beneath it.
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Mr Kopp said there were now five crossing on his property.
“However, they will only do fencing and yarding for two crossings that have been allocated. They wouldn’t give us access to the underpass on a bridge, but are going back to look at this again.”
He said he only found out at last week’s meeting that rail people were not allowed to drive along the rail easement.
“We aren’t either and they are not even allowed to walk on it, so their access agreement is going to be on our property.”
He said he wanted both parties’ entitlements clearly spelled out. Mr Kopp said he had been dealing with only one person, the coordinator for the track. “I find it very easy to talk with her, being a farmer’s daughter from Tamworth, she has been very helpful.”