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Legal action is launched by two of New South Wales' most prominent regional lobby groups to drill down on answers around the hydrology modelling for the multi-billion-dollar inland rail project.
The NSW Farmers' Association and the Country Women's Association of NSW have engaged the legal firm, Holding Redlich to commence legal action on the Australian Rail Track Corporation's (ARTC) handling of the inland rail route, particularly between Narromine and Narrabri.
"The reason we've escalated it is because to date we've sat through many round tables and discussions and sent many letters and emails to try to get answers on these very legitimate questions from our members. They've just simply not answered," CWA of NSW CEO Danica Leys said.
"The ARTC needs to understand these are people asking very legitimate and very reasonable questions that stand to have their whole businesses incredibly disrupted and in some cases, made completely unviable."
The $10 billion, 1700-kilometre project aims to connect freight trains from Melbourne to Brisbane in under 24-hours via regional Victoria. News South Wales and Queensland. Construction of the 103 km Parkes to Narromine section is expected to be completed in late 2020, with the entire project scheduled to be completed by 2025. The project has been divided into 13 distinct project representing sections of the line.
ARTC says engagement ongoingLast month, Condamine floodplain farmers had a small win of the route proposed for southern Queensland, with a review ordered by the Federal Government.
NSW farmers have called for a similar review around flood-prone areas and say local knowledge is being overlooked.
Ms Leys said consultation in many cases had been 'totally inadequate'.
"It's been a one-way conversation with many questions unanswered. We know local landholder input is not being taken into account and we know those local questions around flooding impacts, for example, are not being considered," Ms Leys said.
In a statement to the ABC, the ARTC said 'productive engagement' had been occurring with farmers going back to early 2018, including more than 100 farmers 'in the past couple of months' between Narromine and Narrabri.
"We recognise that NSW Farmers has an important role in inland rail which is why I have engaged with them genuinely and consistently over the past two years," ARTC Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller said.
"Those are productive meetings, that will ensure that we can build inland rail to the highest standards while mitigating the impacts on those farmers.
"We were able to come to agreement on land access protocols and principles, and we have published the answers to all their questions in the past."
The Inland Rail project is being fast-tracked by the Federal Government. The Parkes to Narromine stretch of the rail is already almost completed.(Supplied: Australian Rail Track Corporation)
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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