ACTION NEEDED: Farmers and rural residents from the southwest region protested in Brisbane against the planned construction of the inland rail route from Melbourne to Brisbane on the Condamine floodplain. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
ACTION NEEDED: Farmers and rural residents from the southwest region protested in Brisbane against the planned construction of the inland rail route from Melbourne to Brisbane on the Condamine floodplain. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Southwest farmers voice Inland rail concerns

The Inland Rail project has been an ongoing issue for three years, with the frustrations of farmers and landholders only continuing to grow.

Last week more than 200 farmers and regional landholders gathered in Brisbane to protest their concern at what they say is a flawed Inland Rail route across the Condamine River floodplain.

Floodplain farmer and Millmerran Rail Group chairman Wes Judd led the protest and said landholders were hoping to shed light on the substantial issues to both sides of government.

"The biggest issue of the Condamine floodplain is flooding," he said.

"The Australian Rail Track Corporation wants to build a structure 2.5m-high, levee bank, possibly 3m.

"In our view there's an inadequate allowance for water to pass through and the 16km that is currently unrestricted water flow, once that rail line goes in it will restrict the water flow."

Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller said ever since the Federal Government announced the track's route in September 2017, farmers along the project's Condamine Floodplain crossing have been concerned

He stated ARTC are working on extensive hydrological modelling of the floodplain, in an effort to build a picture of water flows which will in turn inform the line's design.

But there are areas, such as at Bronte and Ross Harris' Pampas property, where observed flood levels in 2010 are higher than ARTC's modelling currently predicts which could be a concern.

"There's a local abnormality in that area, and we're trying to figure out what it is. And we haven't bottomed it out yet, we're still trying to figure out exactly what happened," he said.

"That's why we talk to people. That's why we have to figure out exactly what was happening.

He said while the engineers ARTC had engaged were "very smart people", ARTC needed local knowledge.

But regardless of the work ARTC is doing, others firmly believe the route is in the wrong place.

Mr Judd said protesters wanted the government to develop an alternative route and for ARTC to review and analyse these alternatives.

He also stated after independent hydrologist and modelists looked into the data and it was brought to light how highly inaccurate it was and that landholders have lost trust in ARTC.

"The message is blunt and that is go and look at other options and if those options don't stack up, come back and we will have another discussion.," he said.

"Right now, nobody wants to see them anywhere near the place."



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