Fair land access needed to keep inland rail on track
NSW Farmers members along the inland rail route are being urged not to sign land access agreements with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).
President of NSW Farmers, Derek Schoen, said the Association was not comfortable with the standard-issue ARTC land access agreement and wanted to work with the ARTC to develop a more comprehensive document which balances the needs of all parties.
“We believe that the ARTC should cease further one-on-one consultation, including discussion of land access arrangements, with potentially impacted land holders until such time as a mutually-agreeable land access agreement has been developed between NSW Farmers and the ARTC”, Mr Schoen said.
“NSW Farmers continues to support inland rail, however we have concerns about the transparency and quality of consultation associated with the project. We outlined these concerns in a meeting with the ARTC on 25 January; the outcome of that meeting was a proposed closed-door, confidential briefing to allow ARTC to share ‘commercially sensitive’ material related to the $1.5 billion Narromine to Narrabri section of the line. This offer was rejected.”
“We believe that, until information about route selection is made publicly available to allow farmers to make their own decisions, the ARTC should cease contacting farmers and asking them to sign land access agreements.”
“Members would be aware that NSW Farmers has previously negotiated land access agreements between landholders and mining companies and we believe we are well placed to ensure the needs of land owners are adequately balanced in any agreements we develop together with the ARTC.”
Mr Schoen also announced that NSW Farmers would hold two community meetings to hear directly the concerns of land holders impacted by the inland rail route.
“At these community meetings, NSW Farmers will provide an update to members about our activities on their behalf, including our engagement with the ARTC, politicians and other stakeholders concerned about inland rail”, Mr Schoen said.
“These meetings, open to the whole community, are intended to provide an opportunity for the community to have their say. We will collate feedback and continue to engage with the ARTC and with the Australian and New South Wales Governments based upon the views expressed.”
The community meetings will be held at midday at Coonamble RSL and 5pm at Narromine RSL on Wednesday 28 February 2018. “I look forward to meeting local residents and hearing their concerns,” Mr Schoen concluded.
Media Contact: Kathleen Curry | Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690
Date: Thursday 22 February 2018