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Community & Business

18 December, 2020

Inland rail's N2N environmental impact statement has been released

The Narromine to Narrabri (N2N) section of the Inland Rail Project now has it's environmental impact statement (EIS) on display. But you'll be hard pressed to do it in time if you plan on reading it cover to cover.

By Telden Nelson

Via Unsplash

It’s been a long time coming, but the EIS for the N2N line is now on public display. It’s a mammoth collection of data and you’ll have about two months to get through it. It’ll only be about the same as reading the Count of Monte Cristo six times.  

Clocking in at 8000 pages of technical data and analysis, anyone who wishes to make a submission has until the first week of February 2021.

The expectation is that during Christmas and harvest, that affected landowners will find the time to disseminate thousands of pages of expert analysis which will likely be far outside their own areas of expertise and then craft thorough and accurate submissions to the NSW state government.

GSC’s inland rail project manager Randall Medd said that this will be an important opportunity to highlight any issues you have with the project. “The EIS public exhibition provides the community the opportunity to highlight issues and ask the approval authority, that being the NSW state government, to go back to ARTC and seek a response to issues raised,” he said.

The N2N line represents the largest section of greenfield development of the entire project, with around 300 kilometres of new track needing to be laid. The entire process has long been criticised for its lack of detail and now it boils down to two months and a thumb drive full of information.

The project first took root in 2011 with the Gillard government making forward estimates of $300 million in funding needed for the project. The subsequent Abbott government committed to the funding in 2014.

The minimum length of time and EIS has to go on display for is 28 days and the Australian Rail and Track Corporation (ARTC) have made it so the EIS will be on display for 62 days. Which still works out to be 129 pages worth of reading a day.

However, few people will actually read the full report, with most affected by the line looking for the details that will impact them and having little time to do much else.

But if you wanted to read the whole thing, you’ll be hard pressed getting through it in time. It would take a team of 10 people to read and digest the report in time to make any kind of thoughtful submission to the state government by the deadline.

However, Gilgandra Shire Council (GSC) acting mayor Ash Walker said that is important to engage with this EIS in whatever capacity you can.

“The EIS is an important step in the planning approval process for the N2N section of inland rail.

“I encourage our whole community to engage with inland rail during the EIS public exhibition period. You may not get another opportunity to raise your concerns through the formal planning approval process,” said Cr Walker.

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