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A proposed rail trail running through Doug Cotterill’s Alfredtown farm has him worried about his future.
A petition against the Wagga Rail Trail written by Mr Cotterill’s wife bears the signatures of many farmers and landowners who are concerned their lives will be turned upside-down and their businesses affected.
The proponents claim it will be a “gift” to future generations, a project that will create a healthy and connected community. But farmers say it will endanger their stock, increase workload for primary producers and threaten their security.
“It’s too big a change,” Mr Cotterill said. “It would cut my farm in half and make working with stock nearly impossible. How will they stop people from pilfering my stuff when they’re coming through my backyard?”
The concept for the Wagga Rail Trail is fairly simple: 21 kilometres of sealed track from the visitors centre in Tarcutta Street, along a levee bank and over the highway and then along the rail line to Ladysmith.
However, details of how wide the track will be, what plans will be in place to stop the public interfering with private property and what to do in an emergency were yet to be revealed, opponents said.
George Brown’s family had been on their farm next to the Equex Centre for 70 years and had faced off against rail trail developers in the past.
It would cut my farm in half.- Doug Cotterill
His mother, Rowena, told The Daily Advertiser in June that council did a feasibility study eight years ago indicating it would cost $6.9 million just to run a track through their property.
”We’re for the community,” Mr Brown said.
“We’re farmers, we feed the community. But who’s going to pay for the maintenance or spray the weeds and how will they keep the hoons out?”
One of the biggest concerns for Mr Brown was biosecurity.
“People could walk in diseases that could hurt livestock,” Mr Brown said.
“We need to have a quarantine like at the airport to protect against that, but how will you stop little kids from climbing a fence?”
Wagga Rail Trail chair Lisa Glastonbury said she had met with all affected landholders earlier this year and once a trail consultant was engaged, she would go back to them to talk about specific concerns.
“The design process isn’t just about the route but also the management, maintenance and emergency response plans,” Ms Glastonbury said. “We need to talk about the issues and respectfully resolve them together so we can get the best outcome for everybody.”
This article first appeared on www.dailyadvertiser.com.au
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