Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Bob Kirk has criticised the State Government’s lack of transparency surrounding rail trail policy amendments.
It comes after he received a statement from the government, which indicated rail trail projects: “will not occur until the pilot projects are completed.”
Cr Kirk is also the Chairman of the Goulburn to Crookwell Rail Trail Inc and he has called for a review on the determination. He also urged the government to set priorities for future pilot programs.
The Goulburn to Crookwell trail is pegged to bring $6 million to the local economy each year and cost $15.6 m to build.
The pilot projects in question – from Tumbarumba to Rosewood, Murwillumbah to Casino and the New England rail trail (Armidale to Wallangarra) have been strongly considered, with the former two already receiving funding.
“I’m not happy that those two projects have got a leg up as pilot schemes ahead of the Goulburn to Crookwell project, when ours is shovel ready,” Cr Kirk said.
“The government has gone down this track without consultation within government and the rail community and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
The council, in conjunction with the Upper Lachlan Shire Council, has undertaken a feasibility study on the project.
“I don’t mind if our proposal misses out on opportunities where it’s a fair an even playing field, but this is not a fair and even playing field,” he said.
However, a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesperson dismissed claims the projects would cease in the immediate future and that they are tied together.
“The government assesses each rail trail project on its individual merits,” the spokesperson said.
“Each rail trail project requires an individual amendment to the Transport Administration Act 1988, following extensive public consultation, to allow closure and development of the specific rail line. The NSW Government supports the development of rail trails on disused rail lines where there is strong local community support.”