ALL along the Inland Rail corridor, NSW Farmers has heard concerns of poor engagement and lack of understanding of how the project could impact farm businesses, says the association’s Inland Rail taskforce chair, Adrian Lyons.
Accompanied by association president, James Jackson, they toured between Coonamble and Narromine last week, meeting with more than two dozen property owners potentially affected by the rail line.
“We support Inland Rail, but we want to make sure we get it right,” Mr Lyons said.
“The government’s failure to properly engage with the community about the selection of the route has left people feeling angry and ignored. It is easy to draw a line on a map, but lines have consequences.
“Landowners believe more evidence must be presented before they will see their assets divided up for the needs of freight companies sending televisions from Melbourne to Brisbane.”
Mr Lyons said throughout the state, the Inland Rail, particularly in greenfield sections, was putting farmer against farmer.
“Surprisingly, local knowledge of environmental risks were not being considered. Desktop studies are the chosen methodology, but farmers say our landscape is not that forgiving,” he said.
He said many of the ARTC’s reports and literature say there is 90 per cent community acceptance of the route, but the farmers he has spoken to are wondering who the ARTC asked to get that figure.
An ARTC spokesperson said the chair of the Narromine to Narrabri community consultative committees has postponed proposed community meetings from December to early 2019 to allow for committee members’ availability.
The meetings will now be held in January 2019, with times and venues to be confirmed.
Mr Lyons also said the offer to the Deputy Prime Minister Malcolm McCormack at Gilgandra, for the association to mediate consultation, also still stood.