Bev Lacey

EXCLUSIVE: Why Warwick must get the inland rail

FARMERS between Inglewood and Toowoomba will rally together in protest of a proposed route for the inland rail project.

Community consultation meetings were held last week in Millmerran, Yelarbon and Inglewood with some farmers left feeling threatened and misinformed.

Beef and grain farmer Mark Twindale told Rural Weekly it was his understanding the train line would run alongside the Inglewood Millmerran Road.

EXPLAINED: HOW THE INLAND RAILWAY WILL WORK

Mr Twindale owns around 3000 acres about 26km outside of Millmerran, his family has been there for three generations.

"The line could go anywhere within one kilometre either side of the road through farmland," he said.

"It would have a major impact on us. I've got about four and a half kilometres of highway frontage.

"It would divide prime agricultural land, cut off access routes and cause major issues for those on the flood plains."

Mr Twindale said he didn't understand the need to build a new route through agricultural land when a railway line already existed via Warwick.

"Some people in the area have more to lose - their houses are right in the proposed path," he said.

Mr Twindale said he felt the approach to the consultation was "secretive" and he didn't know "what to believe".

"We were only able to talk to the liaison officers," he said.

"Some farmers only received a notice in their mailbox two hours before the Millmerran meeting was due to be held.

"We weren't given copies of the maps to take home either, but it's our understanding this route will be locked in by September.

"We're not going to take this lightly, we will stand together and fight because we don't want this on our land."

A new route proposed for the inland rail through agricultural land near Millmerran. Farmers push for ARTC to use existing track via Warwick.
A new route proposed for the inland rail through agricultural land near Millmerran. Farmers push for ARTC to use existing track via Warwick.

A spokeswoman for ARTC said they had been conducting preliminary field studies for the 1700km freight connection route between Brisbane and Melbourne.

"In the Millmerran area this has included consultation with regional council and groups involved in regional land and water management to better understand local planning, traffic, environment and flood management issues," she said.

"ARTC conducted a series of community information sessions open to the public in Yelarbon, Inglewood, Millmerran and Oakey last week. The informal drop-in sessions, which were advertised in regional media, provided the opportunity for local people interested in the project to meet the project team, raise questions and provide initial feedback."

The spokeswoman said it's "very early days" and the first of a "series of opportunities" for community members to provide their views and feedback about the inland rail over the next two years.

"Once we are closer to identifying a preferred alignment in the area, ARTC will provide formal communication to potentially impacted landowners and give them the opportunity to give their feedback," she said.

Pampas farmer Lyndon Pfeffer also attended the meeting last week and held concerns for the flood plains.

"They said there would be 1.2m drainage pipes under the railway line to let the water through, but I don't know how far apart they would be," he said.

On his property Mr Pfeffer has an underground main to provide water to various paddocks through flood irrigation.

"It will be interesting to see how they go about it and hopefully they come up with a plan to least impact farmers."


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