Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Media Release, 26 September 2022
A small South East Queensland council holds grave concerns over the future of their community as Inland Rail proceeds full steam ahead with plans to rip through the heart of their towns.
Looking to protect the disaster fatigued region from yet another blow, Lockyer Valley Regional Council are calling on the State and Commonwealth Governments to ensure the nation’s salad bowl doesn’t pay the price for the project’s convenience.
Reflecting on the growing frustration of her council and community, Lockyer Valley Regional Council Mayor, Cr Tanya Milligan noted the region’s substantiated concerns appear to be falling on deaf ears.
“Our region has been put through the ringer with overlapping natural disasters and soon we’ll have infrastructure of national significance dividing our towns in two and creating further hurdles to overcome on our journey to flood resilience,” Mayor Milligan said.
“It doesn’t matter what part of the process you look at; the proposed route will have serious generational impacts on our townships, and decision makers designing the railway are not taking our concerns seriously.
“We have been raising our concerns since this project was first announced and continue to advocate for our community in our ongoing objection to the unreasonable impacts of Inland Rail.
“Despite repeated requests, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has been unable or unwilling to provide Council with key information such as costs of the planned infrastructure and the alternate route, specifics of the assessment process used by ARTC to compare options or even revised traffic modelling and safety assessments.
“The decision on alignment will affect the safety, amenity and liveability of our community for 100 years – yet Councillors have been given platitudes rather than facts.
“We understand this is vital transport infrastructure and we aren’t saying ‘not in my backyard’, but we are saying it must be moved outside of our townships.
Deputy Mayor, Cr Jason Cook said Council had been demanding explanations on behalf of their community, but the ones they’ve been provided aren’t making much sense.
“We understand it might cost a little more to move the route outside of the Gatton township, but when picturing 2 kilometre long, double-stacked freight trains roaring through the centre of a busy town more than 40 times per day, realigning the route just seems like a no brainer,” Cr Cook said.
“Surely reducing the enormous impacts on our community is a reasonable investment by the government, and the explanations and justifications we are being provided by Inland Rail just simply don’t stack up.
“The current proposal is likely to add insult to injury with increased flooding risks, as our community recovers from a spate of three severe weather events in the last twelve months.
“Beyond that, reduced connectivity between the two sides of the rail line is likely to create a ‘wrong side of the tracks’ social issue as well as genuine health concerns from the noise impacts.
“In full flight the Inland Rail project is tipped to disrupt the ability to sleep for hundreds of residents living within a kilometre of the rail corridor – which is both a health and wellbeing issue and an unsettling truth about the project.
Mayor Milligan called on the Australian and Queensland Governments to come to the region and ground-truth the impacts of the project for themselves.
“I am calling on all layers of government to listen to our concerns, and demonstrate their respect for Australia’s rural towns,” Mayor Milligan said.
“Seeing the project on the ground is very different to viewing concept plans on a screen and is a surefire way to ensure all stakeholders in the project are informed on the long lasting impacts it will have before it is too late.
“While we are a small piece in a large national scale puzzle – that shouldn’t discredit our concerns and we deserve both a voice and a platform to be heard.
“Inland Rail offers no benefits whatsoever to our community and contrary to what some members of our community are mistakenly led to believe, it does not include passenger rail.
“All we’re asking for is a fair go, and for the route to be adjusted so our liveability and ability to respond to natural disasters are not so severely impacted.
“This project will be devastating for our community unless the reference design is improved substantially to address Council and community concerns.
“ARTC doesn’t seem able to appreciate the impacts this route will have on the future of our region, and I invite relevant State and Commonwealth ministers to meet with us and hear first-hand of our concerns so that the right decision can be made.”
Mayor Milligan noted that her statements were not made by or on behalf of ARTC.