Delay could affect North East Rail Trail: mayor Greg Howard

Dorset Mayor Greg Howard says the delays in approving legislation for the North East Rail Trail could place the project in jeopardy.

The proposal to allow disused rail corridors was adjourned earlier in the week in the Legislative Council, with a number of independent MLC’s noting that the community was still troubled about its impact.

Cr Howard said the $1.47 million federally funded project could be compromised if they can’t advise the Commonwealth to commence construction by the end of the year.

He said the process required extensive planning approvals, and possible appeals, and the project had already been extended twice, with a third extension not guaranteed. 

Cr Howard said it was critical the legislation is immediately approved when the bill returns to the upper house.

Apsley independent MLC Tania Rattray said she was concerned about the lack of consultation with affected landowners, including the screening and access points of the corridor. 

Ms Rattray said the bill before the parliament would impact on the Derwent Valley and North West railway lines.

She said the adjournment provided an opportunity to engage in meaningful consultation with landowners.  

However, Cr Howard said all landowners had been sent a letter, and council representatives met with more than 13 landowners, and a small number had valid issues that were resolvable.

Cr Howard said other Rail Trails overseas had proven that issues such as biosecurity and personal safety were not an issue. 

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