Firstly the farmers don't want the rail closed, as because of the Strategic Corridors legislation, they can no longer reclaim the land back, so that is a red herring. They simply want their land secured from trespassers such as vandals and farm invading protesters such as Green and Animal Liberation activists who have a proven track record of invading and deliberately sabotaging farmers assets.
Yes, but they get it by default. The land is basically unsalable as the only buyers would be the land owners either side and if the same farm then no competition. The "strategic corridor" status is just so the govt can appease the pro-rail side saying if rail is viable in the future for something they have a corridor. In reality we all know this will unlikely ever happen short of a large mine or some very major industrial application and in both cases large portions of the existing corridor would be by-passed. I used to work alongside a former NW TGR train driver and he said the section beyond Gladstone was useless for heavy logs, claimed the railway wanted them road hauled further west for rail and even the section from Scottsdale to Gladstone was still pretty average due to alignment and undulations. Track didn't help either. The mostly likely use of the corridor is for pipe lines.
The link with animal libs, yeah well that can happy just as easily on a open rail line or from a road.
As for vandals, I think we are over estimating the energy of the average vandal to travel km's up a narrow corridor on a bike to break or paint a farm fence?. Experience from other locations likely doesn't reflect such concerns especially what I've read from Otago or even existing in Tas and Aust.
Yes, the Greens have been slapped with fines and non-approach orders, but they always manage to appeal away the fines and substitute alternative activists to get around the non-approach orders which only ever tend to be specific to a particular person. Even as an organisation, the Greens (if they are named) have numerous agents from proxy organisations to do their dirty work.
At least you agree any work on destroying the track will be embargoed whist it drags through the legal process. You cant preempt the likely decision of the High Court though, especially when the farmers QC's bring evidence of the corrupt process through which the council have driven this. The council may even end up getting sacked - especially as buckets and buckets of ratepayers money gets wasted on the defence of the council's outrageous 'boondoggle'.
I used to live 1km from the Shale Oil Project Project in Gladstone, I've seen the Greens tactics first hand and how far they got and I would say a mine for oil shale is far higher up the tree on priorities that converting an unused railway to a bike/walking track something the average green would likely be first to use.
Legal challenge, yeah well who is wiling to fund this? And what is their LEGAL argument against the govt converting an unused rail asset they own to a public asset?
If the farmers do have the money to fund a legal challenge, it will be the last time I donate anything to farmers in crisis.
As for the pending dispute between the farmers and the council impacting on the currently conceded length of track between Coldwater Creek Jctn and Lilydale - as LNER and NERAF are separate organisations, LNER will concentrate on getting the track they have up and running, playing no part in the NERAF dispute with the council. Yes LNER may benefit from any victories the farmers achieve, but as the deed of granting the track has already been made and the lease being drawn up and furthermore, as LNER's current allocated track lease isn't even in Dorset Council's jurisdiction, any ongoing ruckus between the farmers and Dorset Council will have absolutely no bearing on LNER progressing their end of the heritage rail project. The only potential down side is funding that might have been available from the farmers (who have very deep pockets, such as Robert Raven's, owner of Bridestowe Lavender farm - one of the, if not the biggest attractions in the north-east) to support the railway, will likely instead get tied up in the legal battle with the council - which will last until the endless drain on ratepayers funds result in the Dorset ratepayers finally scream "Enough!" and either vote out the current council ruling clique or successfully appeal to the State Govt to sack the council for financial misappropriation.
The local council is already made up of community representatives and the project has been assessed and approved by the govt actually made the final decision, not the council.
The problem with the project to return HR to Scotsdale which I support if it was viable, but it is very much unlikely.
Lets look at one of the closer example, Taiera Gorge.
While the retain the line to Middlemarch, around 60km, they actually only operate daily to Pukerangie, 45km or ~2h up, ~2h back. The line to MiddleMarch is seasonal and then only 2 days per week and the backbone of the users for the train to Middle March are actually the rail trail users. Does the link between services to Middle March and Otaga trail usage not say something? ie few people have the money and/or the time to spend all day return on a HR. The Pukerangie return fare is NZ$119. Say $100 Aussie to call it even. Its a bloody expensive family day out, especially on holiday. Having spent all day return going to Scotsdale by steamer I can appreciate this.
I can tell you now my train loving wife would not be up for an all day trip that costs north of $400 for family, but cheaper half day trip she would sign up too especially if on a 7-10 day holiday. However she would love a half day trip with option for extended bike ride over a few days because its open air/green, cheaper, good for kids, good family time. This is memorable.
In Australia alone, how many HR operators are there with a section of track as lone as Scotsdale? Pitchie Richie is 39km. Mary Valley is a bit longer and needed a major cash bailout by the state in recent years. Tassie also has the Western Railway and hopefully one day the Derwent Valley line for long trips, how many can the state support?
Anyway, no point debating further, time will tell all.