Coordinator-General flys in to Clermont for landowner talks

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Beef producer, John Burnett, Clermont
Media Release - Corridor to Coast - Galilee Network - July 2, 2011

Queensland coordinator-general Keith Davies and four senior department heads flew in to the central highlands on Wednesday to meet with landowners affected by the proposed rail corridor developments to move coal across more than 500kms of country from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point and Moranbah.

Corridor to Coast – Galilee Network (C2C), representing landowners, hosted the two day visit to give the coordinator-general, (who coordinates and implements large scale projects and development), an overview of the issues landowners are most concerned about if separate rail corridors go ahead.

C2C spokesman and Clermont cattle producer John Burnett said the team was taken to see road crossings, flood plains and rail sites by helicopter and vehicles and shown why one rail corridor (instead of the proposed five) was essential for minimal environmental impact.

“The railway planning has been underway for two years with no consultation between mining companies and landholders until now,” Mr Burnett said.

“If landowners had been involved in initial discussions we could have pointed out where companies were building a line in the bottom of a creek and shown them where a flood plain was going to wipe out the line, but they weren’t interested in local knowledge.”

Meeting with landowners, their legal and consultancy support, mining representatives and Mackay Conservation Group in Clermont yesterday, Keith Davies said the visit had given his team a better understanding of landowners concerns, including poorly located corridors, hydrological impacts, farm management complications, commercial operation impacts and the environmental and social impacts.

“Until we came here, the region was just a map,” he said.

“Seeing the country and hearing the concerns firsthand are important to the process.”

Mr Davies said the direct benefits of the Galilee Basin would be more than $11 billion a year to the State’s economy with $3.3 billion in royalties alone.

He said Government had told the Galilee Basin proponents that it was preferable the industry worked together to develop integrated rail transport solutions and shared infrastructure proposals – but that hadn’t happened.
“While we have always wanted industry to work together, since 2008, proponents have gone their own way.”

He said the impacts had to be closely assessed and the process required high details in developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“To gain minimal impact, local knowledge does need to be factored into the final decisions – we still have a lot of work to do.”

Mr Davies said he was still looking at the prospect of one corridor and landowners were encouraged to take part in the process by consulting with Government.

“If people aren’t putting in a submission or voicing concerns, the process is falling over.”

At the meeting Rolleston farmer Max Mayne outlined his experience with railways going through his property and the importance for all landowners take part in the process – even neighbouring properties that could be indirectly affected.

“You need to be involved in the process now to make sure the lines are built in the best possible locations and you need to factor in problems that can occur once the line is built,” Mr Mayne said.

“In the recent flood we had the expense of putting levies in to prevent water (caused by the railway) from coming in and we suffered enormous damage – the company hasn’t offered any repair assistance.”

Beef producer Dyan Hughes said it was encouraging to have the three major proponents in the room together with landholders and the Government.

“Adani has been responsive to our suggestions to relocate out of our major watercourse up to the watershed, which is on our boundary,” she explained.

“Where possible, they have also respected the boundary lines of all properties in their revised proposal for their west east line.

“Adani do appear to be community minded, also acknowledging they are exploring the possibility of a new community at the Moray site.”

Mrs Hughes said C2C’s preferred corridor for the south north line had been taken off Adani’s agenda.

“The network is working to ensure this site receives due consideration and encourages all landholders in the proposed corridors, or adjacent to, to get involved in the consultation process.

“We do all need to work together to get this right.”

At the meeting, hearing examples of EIS reports being inaccurate, Waratah Coal’s Warren Twist said he would take this on board and ensure their report was a concise, user friendly document.

The last undeveloped coal resource in Queensland, the Galilee Basin has attracted intense interest from across the globe for the staggering quantity of coal yet to be harnessed.

John Burnett said landowners were not asking for the development to stop.

“We just want to make sure we have a fair chance to save our businesses, our land and our families’ futures.

Image 1: At Pasha Station, north east of Clermont, from left, Bob Gannon, director Significant Projects Coordination, Trevor Jones, beef producer, Myra Station, Clermont, Keith Davies, coordinator-general, Damien Walker, deputy coordinator-general, David Stolz, director Coal Infrastructure Taskforce, Nathan Edwards, director Land Acquisition.

Image 2: Keith Davies was given a birds-eye view of proposed railway locations on Wednesday, before a meeting with landholders yesterday.

Image 3: John Burnett, Bendemeer, Clermont with Queensland Coordinator-General Keith Davies at a meeting for landowners in Clermont yesterday.

Corridor to Coast – Galilee Network (C2C)
Contact: Paula Heelan – C2C publicity - 07 49835 283