Protesters with Logan City councillor Laurie Smith, second from right.
Protesters with Logan City councillor Laurie Smith, second from right.

Inland Rail’s dirty coal kept ‘secret’

A CAMPAIGN to stop coal trains running on a proposed inland freight line has been ramped up, after the federal government was attacked for withholding information.

The government's Australian Rail Track Corporation was in the firing line when Logan City councillors Laurie Smith and Trevina Schwarz took up the plight of residents living along the proposed Kagaru to Acacia Ridge section of the Inland Rail line.

The councillors launched their missive, explaining the ills of coal dust, days before the first Inland Rail community consultative committee meeting for the year on Monday.

 

A loaded coal train passes through the outskirts of Singleton, in the NSW Hunter Valley.
A loaded coal train passes through the outskirts of Singleton, in the NSW Hunter Valley.

 

"This seems to be flying under the radar and the federal government is certainly not raising the coal issue," Cr Schwarz said.

"They are not attending to the residents, they are not letting them know details, they are not raising the alarms.

"I know they don't want to do that because they just want to put the line through.

"We were basically told that it was not going to be consultation and engagement and basically, we are going to be told when they start building it."

Cr Schwarz said residents wanted a passenger line and could live with a busy freight line but were opposed to coal trains.

 

Residents along the Inland Rail track are concerned about toxic coal dust and property values falling.
Residents along the Inland Rail track are concerned about toxic coal dust and property values falling.

 

Cr Smith said households using tank water would also suffer and residents living along the line faced a life breathing in toxic coal dust while watching their property values slump, if the plans went ahead without an environmental impact assessment.

Currently there are 30 to 40 trains a week on the line.

But, Cr Smith said, that would jackpot to 45-64 trains a day by 2040, which equated to one every 32 minutes.

"And we're not talking about a normal goods trains, these are 1.8km in length and by 2040 could even be 3.6km in length - that's a lot of dust."

An ARTC spokesman said containing dust was up to the train operators and the state government could refuse permits to those who failed.

The spokesman denied claims the ARTC was foiling plans for an environmental impact Statement and said a commitment was made in November for the project to be lodged with the Coordinator General's department by the end of February.

"There will be a range of detailed investigations undertaken to understand the characteristics of the existing environment, consider and describe the potential impacts of the project and detail how any impacts may be mitigated," the spokesman said.

"These investigations generally include geotechnical, flooding and hydrology, ecological, noise, air quality and vibration, social and heritage studies.

"The use of the Coordinated Project assessment is robust, independently managed by the Office of the Coordinator-General, and enables community and whole of government input on the assessment of a proposed project."

 

Members of the Inland Rail Action Group hold a protest about plans to introduce coal trains on the existing track.
Members of the Inland Rail Action Group hold a protest about plans to introduce coal trains on the existing track.

 

Members of the Inland Rail Action Group said it was up the Coordinator General's office to decide whether to hold an impact assessment not the ARTC.

IRAG spokeswoman Suz Corbett claimed an impact assessment would be legally required if coal trains were added to the line triggering a "material change of use".

Monday's meeting will be in the Currong Room at Greenbank Community Centre, 145 Teviot Rd, Greenbank from 6 to 8pm. Observers are welcome.

Registrations on 1800 732 761.