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Brisbane City Council will not commission modelling of its own on the traffic or environmental impacts of a link between its port and the end of the proposed multibillion-dollar national Inland Rail route in the city’s south.
The refusal, which infrastructure committee chair David McLachlan said was because such research would replicate the work tasked to the state and federal governments, comes amid escalating political rumblings and growing community concern about the project.
The multibillion-dollar interstate rail route is planned to end at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane’s suburban south, almost 40 kilometres from the city’s port.CREDIT:BLOOMBERG
Overseen by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the federal government, the 1715-kilometre freight line is slated to connect Melbourne to Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland, with upgraded and new tracks.
The line is planned to end at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane’s suburban south, almost 40 kilometres from the Port of Brisbane.
The state and federal governments have undertaken a $1.5 million Port of Brisbane Strategic Rail Access Study into the future requirements of a dedicated freight link to the port. A further $20 million planning study for a business case is not expected until 2022.
A community consultative committee for the final Queensland stretch, chaired by former Howard government minister Gary Hardgrave, heard in January that without such a rail link the Acacia Ridge termination would be “devastating” for the city’s southern suburbs and triple the amount of trucks on local roads.
A joint state and federal business case is expected to consider the most effective option to get rail freight from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane, and any associated impacts.
Labor councillor Steve Griffiths and independent Nicole Johnston, whose wards sit in areas potentially affected by the project, put forward the motion on Tuesday asking for the council to release any modelling or commit to undertake it to “fully understand the impacts and risks” to health, amenity and safety.
Cr Griffiths said it was a matter of transparency as any option was likely to mean greater pollution or congestion. Cr Johnston said it was “ridiculous” that a port-to-port solution was not included, suggesting trucks were already a problem in Annerley and the alternative was pollution from dozens of diesel trains every day.
“It should concern every councillor in this city,” she said.
Responding to the motion, Cr McLachlan said it was a matter for the state and federal governments but the council would work with the ARTC as the project progressed to understand “what the implications might be ... for Brisbane residents”.
“We won’t be spending money needlessly replicating traffic and environmental modelling that is the domain, as we know ... of the [Queensland Transport and Main Roads Department] and the federal government through their joint committee on this”, the Hamilton ward councillor said.
All 17 LNP administration councillors in the chamber voted the motion down.
Logan City Council, through which the proposed rail route would also pass, has been vocal in its criticism of the project.
Other councils spanning the five sections from the NSW border have expressed broad concern about flood modelling and three-billion-dollar tunnels. The proposed route also passes through or close to critical koala habitats.
A federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications spokeswoman said the $20 million further planning study under way would gauge the interests of private sector parties in delivering and operating the dedicated freight rail connection to the port.
She said this process would build upon the earlier joint study, but she would not be drawn on questions about its progress or the release of the earlier work. Comment has been sought from the state government.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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