A 26-kilometre section of the envisioned $1.5 million North East Rail Trail has been given the green light by the Dorset Council, despite a 1101 signatory survey against the project.
The council approved its development application for a bike trail from Wyena to Scottsdale on Monday.
Tensions at the Winnaleah Community Centre were high as the item went for discussion during the meeting. Members of the public wanted to have their say, which resulted in a back and forth between the gallery and mayor Greg Howard.
The DA received a petition with 1101 signatures against it and 34 representations, with 19 objecting to the council's plans and 15 in support of them.
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Cr Edwina Powell spoke against the DA, as she said it went against the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993's need to protect public infrastructure for the benefit of the community.
"I can not support the decommissioning of the rail infrastructure, that is the removal of the rail and sleepers. The decommissioning of the rail structure means the destruction of a public asset of real value," she said.
"The fact that the tracks are not in use does not mean that they are not fit for use, what we want now deprives us of the potential of a tourist railway in future."
Her statement was met by applause from the gallery.
However, the independent planner found the potential impacts would not be unreasonable or adverse and were consistent with the Act.
Cr Powell voted against the DA, with all others present supporting it on planning grounds. Cr Leonie Stein was not at the meeting and Cr Wendy McLennan did not vote due to a conflict of interest.
It will include the decommissioning of rail infrastructure, construction of trail surface, decking and handrails along bridge crossings, 10 car parks and signage.
However, further approvals are required before construction can begin, including permission from the Department of State Growth to remove the line.
Deputy mayor Dale Jessup said it did not matter whether councillors thought the rail trail was a good thing or not, they were only accessing it against the planning scheme.
"It's no value to anybody the way it is," he said.
The remaining 14km of the proposed 40km track is within the City of Launceston council area and will be subject to a separate DA anticipated to be lodged in April.