LANDHOLDERS worried about a rail trail cutting through their farms between Tumbarumba and Rosewood will not be trampled over in a rush to build a $5 million pilot project should it be approved by the state government, Tumbarumba mayor Ian Chaffey has vowed.
“This is not about marching roughshod over property rights and feelings,” Councillor Chaffey said.
The government is expected to decide within a few weeks whether or not to fund a 22.5km rail trail in Tumbarumba Shire as one of two pilots in NSW.
Rail trails have been an emotional topic in Wagga, Tumbarumba and Gundagai council areas, with councillors having to weigh up landholder fears against a potential tourism upswing, as experienced elsewhere.
Cr Chaffey said he thought there were 12 rural enterprises directly affected by the Tumbarumba-Rosewood rail trail.
He said landholder concerns about rail trails included bringing in pests and diseases (biosecurity), farm safety, visual amenity, farm management, bushfires and privacy.
“These people have legitimate concerns that need to be considered and addressed,” Cr Chaffey said.
“People need to be consulted, they need to be part of the process, they need to have their feelings understood and remedial action needs to be taken (to address their concerns).”
Cr Chaffey believes the experience of Victoria and South Australia prove concerns can be addressed.
“We did not see an issue raised and a suitable solution not found,” Cr Chaffey said.
“When you look around Australia, where they are they have been of benefit to the community and an acceptance of them.”
Addressing fears that rail trails end the chances of trains returning, Cr Chaffey said the last train out of Tumbarumba left in the mid 1970s.
He said he could not say trains would never come to the town again, but if there was a need for trains, the transport corridor would still be in public ownership and in better condition as a rail trail than if left to the elements or changed by farming practices.
In some cases, rail lines have been removed by farmers.
“I think it (trail corridors) has to be retained in community or government ownership; that safeguards future generations, “ Cr Chaffey said.
Cr Chaffey said he saw great tourism potential for a Tumbarumba-Rosewood rail trail, and believes a logical extension is to Humula, which he considers the most picturesque part of the rail line to Wagga.
“The future of Tumbarumba to a major extent is the tourism industry,” Cr Chaffey said.
“You can’t stay stagnant, because if you stay stagnant you go backwards.”
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