North East Rail Trail work back on track

The Legislative Council has delivered its final report into the North East Rail Trail giving the state government’s compromise solution the thumbs up but trail opponents have vowed to fight on.

The Legislative Council took over ten months to come to a similar conclusion as the state government, but criticised the lack of community consultation during the development of the rail trail project.

The compromise solution sees a rail trail built from Scottsdale to Lilydale Falls, joining the existing trail from Billycock Hill to create a 66 km long trail for riders and walkers.

A tourist railway would have the option of operating on the line from Lilydale Falls to Coldwater Creek, although the Legislative Council has recommended that a link through to Launceston would be the ideal.

After the report was released the residents who are against the trail immediately threatened to appeal the Dorset Council’s development application to the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal.

Such an appeal would likely hold up the process for another month or more.

Funding problems

While the Dorset Council has received $1.47 million in funding from the Australian Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund to build the trail from Scottsdale to Coldwater Creek, timeline blowouts have put the money at risk.

The council must spend and acquit the funding by April 2020 but because of the state government and parliamentary inquiries, and a likely planning tribunal appeal, this timeline may not be achievable.

Bass MP Bridget Archer supported the rail trail during the federal election campaign and she came out on the weekend, vowing to work towards an extension of the funding. Bicycle Network wrote to Mrs Archer when the report was released, seeking her renewed support for the project.

Dorset Council Mayor Greg Howard has said the council will look to fund the trail if there is a shortfall from the federal funding.

The state government has not indicated when it will introduce the necessary legislation to transfer the corridor manager from TasRail to Dorset Council to enable work to start.

It had introduced a bill in 2016 to facilitate the rail trail but that was withdrawn when the tourist railway group complained.

The government is also in dispute with the Burnie Council about maintenance of the rail corridor between Wynyard and Cooee after storm erosion destroyed sections destined to become the North West Coastal Pathway.

It is not known whether this dispute will hold up the North East Rail Trail legislation.

To show the federal government you support a renewed funding commitment to the rail trail, contact:

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
Michael McCormack

     TEL: 02 6277 7520

     MAIL: PO Box 6022
     House of Representatives
     Parliament House
     Canberra ACT 2600