27 April, 2022
Inland rail flood concerns
New flood mitigation measures are being explored on properties affected by the inland rail as the Narromine-to-Narrabri section of the project seeks approval from the state department of planning.
Stephen Campion, a cereal and cattle farmer from
Gilgandra, is one landholder who has been contacted in
the past fortnight by the Australian Rail Track
Corporation (ARTC) to say he could see more of his
land acquired as part of a drainage control area.
In an email Mr Campion received from ARTC, the
corporation said that “the drainage control areas are a
relatively new concept which is why these areas have
not been identified on previous maps”.
The email said that a maximum of 200 drainage control
areas are proposed along the alignment to make sure
the floodwater speeds aren’t too fast during flood
Mr Campion said that if the inland rail makes
flooding worse, he is worried it could create soil erosion
on his farm.
The potential for flooding on the farm is one reason
Mr Campion and his neighbours were surprised in 2017
when the proposed route wasn’t following higher
ground in the area, which would have avoided the water
that comes from the southeast onto their properties.
Adrian Lyons, chair of the NSW Farmers’ Inland
Rail Taskforce, said a route option was initially available
that would have taken the rail on top of the water
shed and on an existing rail corridor through Coonamble,
but it wasn’t chosen.
Mr Lyons says there are 16 creeks that come out of
the Warrumbungles, constituting a “fierce” amount of
water the rail will have to cross following the current
chosen route. However, he says unlike towns such as
Narromine and Narrabri, the flood risks have not been
“There’s no data capture because there’s no irrigation
in the area,” Mr Lyons said.
An ARTC spokesperson told Gilgandra Newspapers
that “ARTC confidently stands by the extensive work
undertaken to assess and identify the best route for the
Narromine-to-Narrabri section of inland rail”.
“The proposed drainage control areas are being
developed for the NSW Department of Planning and
Environment to assist in refining the reference design
regarding drainage solutions at some locations along the
Narromine-to-Narrabri section,” the spokesperson said.
Peter Holt, a lawyer who is engaged jointly by NSW
Farmers and Country Women’s Association to act as
special counsel regarding inland rail matters, says that
these drainage control areas come “very late in the context
of public consultation”.
The new flood mitigation
measures don’t reassure Mr Campion who says it comes
as an afterthought.
“They should have worked all this
out beforehand. It’s just an afterthought. That’s the way
the whole project is run. They’ll leave it til later and
work it out then,” said Mr Campion.
The ARTC spokesperson said “the Department of Planning and Environment in NSW has input on the EIS [environmental impact statement] process.
“This is a normal part of the EIS process and helps
inform the design for inland rail.”
The spokesperson said that a Preferred Infrastructure Report and Amendment Report are being prepared which will include the proposed locations of the drainage control areas and that ongoing consultation will occur prior to final decisions being made.
“We have the utmost confidence in our flood modelling
which has been conducted, reviewed and verified
separately by the nation’s leading hydrology experts.
“We have incorporated local knowledge into our models which we are sharing with the local communities as part of the ongoing consultation process,” the spokesperson said.