Goondiwindi council, farmers join forces over rail flood fears

GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu says the Inland Rail is good for the region. But there's a big "but" due to flood fears.

GRC Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu says the Inland Rail is good for the region. But there's a big "but" due to flood fears.

Landowners and the Goondiwindi Regional Council have hit back at comments about the proposed route of the Inland Rail.

Two weeks ago project director Robert McNamara said the route across the Queensland border had been decided, despite concerns of council and some landowners.

One of those is farmer Richard Doyle from "Malgarai" near Boggabilla.

"I am yet to meet Mr McNamara who is the fifth project leader for this section of Inland Rail in the last two years," Mr Doyle told the Argus last week.

"He may be a little hasty in his assertions as the NSW Farmers have been calling for, and the ALP has promised an inquiry into the selection process for Inland Rail. We would certainly table our concerns about past decisions on route selection across the Macintyre Floodplain should that inquiry eventuate.

"I note Mr McNamara's confidence in the modelling regarding the potential flooding risks throughout the Valley.

"Perhaps he is confident enough to provide a personal guarantee secured against his house.

"That is what he expects of all residents in our valley. Remember that Boggabilla and Goondiwindi experienced record floods in 1996 and 2011 despite the fact that 1976 was a far, far bigger flood volumetrically.

"The difference was the increase in irrigation development throughout the floodplain," Mr Doyle said. (You can read his full letter on-line)

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu says Council has its own concerns about flooding.

"Council has always maintained the process which only offered a weighting of 2.5% for flooding is an extra flaw and inadequate and unacceptable.

"The ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) provided a recommendation to then Minister Chester before any communication was made with the local experts that council and landholders submitted.

"As a matter of fact, four names have been submitted and only two have been visited and that was on April 2, 2019 well after any considerations had been made.

"Those that they have met since have raised concerns with the modelling...

"And what will ARTC do post development if something goes wrong.

"You can possibly put a levee bank around a house here and there but you cannot duplicate 27km of levee banks that surrounds Goondiwindi," Cr Scheu said.

Mr Doyle said "local input" should be a vital part of the decision making.

"I am not aware of any local with detailed knowledge of Inland Rail's preferred alignment who favours it over the alternative which runs further west and joins the Queensland line closer to Goondiwindi. We have consistently promoted this alternative as being safer from flood risk...After repeated suggestions by Council and landholders, Inland Rail hase finally conferred with locals...(They have discovered) a number of errors in the data used in the hydrological model."