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No port access and still no land, either, for $15b rail project

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The Queensland Government will not allow land to be resumed for the $15 billion Inland Rail project until it has received certain assurances.

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The 1700km Inland Rail project, stretching from Victoria to Queensland, involves more than a dozen separate works, including a 6km tunnel through the Toowoomba Range. It is being managed by the Federal Government, through the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

However, the Queensland leg has been the most controversial. Community protests forced a rethink of the planned route across a floodplain, Scenic Rim residents are also concerned, while the proposed use of trucks to shuttle freight to the Brisbane port has only drawn attention to the ‘missing link’ in the rail network.

Long-time inland rail advocate Everald Compton has described it as “the most disastrous infrastructure project in the history of Australia”. Compton even suggested the ARTC give up on getting to Brisbane and head for Gladstone instead.

In answer to a question on notice from Queensland Opposition MP James Lister, Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the State Government had negotiated an agreement with “protections to ensure the needs of Queensland communities along the proposed railway are addressed”.

“This includes a more meaningful and rigorous consultation process, a greater focus on floodplain modelling and design, restrictions to some coal train operations and addressing concerns about noise, dust and social impacts,” Bailey said.

“Compulsory land acquisition for the rail corridor in each section will not occur until the respective Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been fully completed and until the Palaszczuk Government is satisfied that genuine consultation with affected communities has taken place. The EIS involves rigorous assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts. The terms of reference include specific requirements for public consultation to understand specific detail about peoples’ concerns.”

Bailey encouraged Lister to lobby his federal LNP colleagues for any changes ahead of the election.

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