The Legislative Council tasked with looking at the best tourism opportunity for the state’s North-East Railway Corridor is determined not to let the process drag on.
Public hearings examining the use of the rail trail continued on Wednesday in Scottsdale, with the Legislative Council expected to hear evidence from North East Residents and Farmers members, along with Dorset mayor Greg Howard.
With 64 submissions received, inquiry chairwoman Launceston independent MLC Rosemary Armitage said the Legislative Council was well aware of how divisive the issue had become in the community.
“We haven’t looked at a time frame, but we are certainly not trying to draw things out,” she said.
“We are also conscious of the fact that it is a lot of money we are talking about, so we need to get as much information as we can to make an informed a decision.
“Whatever we come up with, it isn’t something the government has to go with. We will simply make recommendations to the government.
“But we are just trying to get all of the facts together, because we are looking at a lot of money and it is very divisive to in the community.”
The North East Railway Company wants to restore the track to make a heritage passenger rail service, while the Dorset Council wants the infrastructure removed to create a cycleway to link with other trails in the region.
Almost $1.5 million in federal funding awarded to the Dorset Council in 2017 for the construction of a cycle path along the rail corridor is due to expire in December this year.
Ms Armitage said the Legislative Council was conscious of the time frame, but wanted to be as thorough as possible.
“There are two very passionate groups that are both on opposite sides, so it really is a hard thing,” she said.
“It’s a bit of a never ending thing and somewhere we have to stop and say – we have enough, we have all of the information and we really need to get on with it and get some findings and recommendations together.
“My understanding is something has to be started by December 2019, because of the federal funding. It has already been extended a couple of times.”
Public hearings are expected to return to Launceston in March.