Border to Gowrie

On 21 September 2017, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, announced that the alignment via Wellcamp and Charlton will proceed to the planning and approvals phase.

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Background on the alignment

Border to Gowrie is one of 13 projects that makes up the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Programme which will provide freight rail transport through regional Australia.

The Border to Gowrie project starts at the New South Wales/Queensland border, east of Goondiwindi, and finishes at Gowrie west of Toowoomba. It is based on the results of two Inland Rail alignment reviews, namely North Star to Yelarbon and Yelarbon to Gowrie.

For state planning purposes, the section of Inland Rail formally known as North Star to Yelarbon has been split into the Queensland project Border to Gowrie (which includes Yelarbon to Gowrie) and the New South Wales project North Star to Border.

Between December 2016 and April 2017 four alignment options (2km wide study corridors) between Yelarbon and Gowrie underwent a review to determine which option to take to detailed design, planning and approvals phase.

On 21 September 2017, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, announced that the Wellcamp-Charlton study corridor will proceed to the planning and approvals phase.

Next steps

Detailed planning and approvals will commence.

A Community Consultative Committee will be established by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to coordinate community involvement in the project, support the flow of information to and from communities, and assist in the development of alignment concept design by ARTC. The Committee will provide input throughout the planning and approvals process.

The Committee will initially be convened by the Inland Rail Queensland Community Advisor, Mr Bruce Wilson AM. A key role of Mr Wilson will be to provide independent advice to Minister Chester on community feedback.

Australian Rail Track Corporation

ARTC's role is to progress the B2G project as the Inland Rail delivery agency for the Australian Government.

The Border to Gowrie project will be subject to planning and approval requirements under State and Australian Government legislation. This includes completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and if required, Social and Economic Impact Statements as part of the EIS.

ARTC will begin working with communities and affected landowners along the study corridor to arrange land access, conduct field studies, and help them understand the planning and approvals process.

ARTC will be holding information sessions on the EIS process and the project. Visit inlandrail.com.au/B2G for the most up to date information.

Planning and approvals

A 2km wide investigative study corridor was confirmed on 21 September 2017 which runs from the New South Wales/Queensland border to Gowrie in Queensland.

This map PDF: 1948 KB ReadSpeaker ReadSpeaker was produced by AECOM/Aurecon for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

ARTC will conduct investigations along the study corridor to refine the corridor to a nominally 40m wide alignment based on the best engineering, environmental, economic and social outcomes. These investigations are an important step in determining potential impacts and mitigation measures.

An EIS is required under both State and Australian Government legislation and is expected to take approximately 12-18 months to finalise.

There will be a number of formal and informal opportunities for public comment throughout this phase and ARTC will work closely with communities and affected landowners along the study corridor.

Queensland Government requirements

Before an alignment can be finalised for construction in Queensland, a detailed EIS must be completed by ARTC and evaluated by the Queensland Coordinator-General.

As a first step in this process, ARTC will lodge an Initial Advice Statement with the Coordinator-General for consideration to declare the proposal as a Coordinated Project.

If Border to Gowrie is declared a Coordinated Project, the Coordinator-General will release a draft terms of reference (TOR) for the EIS for public comment.

The TOR for the EIS set the requirements for ARTC in the development of the EIS. The public is encouraged to assist the Coordinator-General in the development of these requirements through the draft TOR community consultation period.

The EIS is prepared in accordance with the final terms of reference for the EIS. The EIS provides a comprehensive description of:

  • the current environment in the area of the project;
  • all potential environmental impacts of the project; and
  • proposals to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or offset those potential impacts.

The impacts include direct, indirect and cumulative impacts resulting from the construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the project.

For more information on Queensland's assessments and approvals process, visit statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/the-coordinated-project-process.html.

Australian Government requirements

The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government's central piece of environmental legislation.

If the Minister for the Environment and Energy deems that the project is likely to impact matters of national environmental significance, the project will be declared as a Controlled Action. The EIS will then address State and Australian Government requirements under the one EIS.

This provides for a single environmental assessment process conducted by the State. At the completion of the assessment, the Coordinator-General provides a report to the Australian Government assessing the likely impacts of the project on matters of national environmental significance.

Following the assessment stage, the Queensland and Australian Government each make a decision on project approval and conditions to meet differing requirements. This may result in two approval decisions and two sets of conditions.

For more information on the Australian Government's environmental approvals under the EPBC Act, visit environment.gov.au/epbc/one-stop-shop.

Social and community support

The Australian Government understands that there has been uncertainty for many living in the region during the Yelarbon to Gowrie alignment review.

There are many support services available, both through Australian Government agencies and local organisations.

The Australian Government funds a range of ongoing Community Mental Health and Families and Children Activity services throughout Australia, delivered by the Department of Social Services.