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The New South Wales government has escalated the inland rail project to "critical state significant" status and farm lobby groups are alarmed.
The move has alarmed key farm lobby groups who say that will stifle community consultation.
NSW Farmers Inland Rail Taskforce Chair Adrian Lyons said the order, announced on March 1, would prevent people from making objections to the project.
"One of the main problems we have had with the ARTC's [Australian Rail Track Corporation] handling of this project to date is the lack of community consultation, so this move by the Planning Minister rubs salt in old wounds," Mr Lyons said.
Mr Lyons said the project had been littered with poor decisions and inadequate reports on potential effects of noise and vibration, business interruption and loss of the use of land.
He said because of the significance of the project, it could be life-changing for many.
"To take away the voices of these people is a major and disturbing move by the Minister," he said.
CWA 'extremely disappointed'NSW Country Women's Association chief executive Danica Leys said the association only found out about the changes on Friday.
"We have asked for meetings with Minister Rob Stokes on two separate occasions, and they didn't even acknowledge our requests.
"Normally, we have a good relationship with the government but on inland rail they just will not engage, and we really need a meeting."
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She said the CWA had members who were directly impacted and had genuine concerns.
"It is not that we are anti-inland rail — we just were given no notice of the change, and we have a few reasonable questions and a few suggestions about improving the project."
The CWA has also set up a fund to engage experts on environmental impacts and hydrology, and also provide legal opinion.
"Forty-two landholders have contributed $1,000 each to pay for this advice and we don't know if it will be considered or not — I hope it is not just ignored."
Farmer calls for more consultation and solutionsSouthern NSW sheep producer Ashley Hermes wants to know exactly what he is in for when the inland rail slices through his farm at Illabo.
"Effectively, they are building the Great Wall of China through my farm and they expect me to be able to operate on both sides as if nothing has happened," Mr Hermes said.
"My access is going to be hopeless. All my farm vehicles will have to be registered at a great cost. My livestock will have to walk on public land and roads, which is a biosecurity concern," he said.
Mr Hermes said his concerns were not being heard.
"I'd like them [Australian Rail Track Corporation] to say, 'What are your 50 issues and what are your suggested 50 solutions,'" he said.
"It's a little bit secretive, and a little bit sneaky. The consultation is a one-way street.
Mr Hermes said he was concerned about how his business was going to survive as the work proceeded.
"At the moment, I feel powerless, and I presume this [fast-tracking] is an attempt to make me even more powerless.
Despite his concerns, Mr Hermes had accepted that the inland rail would be going ahead.
"I'm resigned to it. But a number of the farmers in the district here think there is still potential for it to be shifted elsewhere."
"I am a victim in this, and I hope I am treated fairly, but that is fairly unlikely."
Minister for Planning Rob Stokes and the Australian Rail Track Corporation have been contacted for comment.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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