Inland Rail serves notice on Charlton farmer

Mark Phelps
By Mark Phelps
Updated December 15 2021 - 9:17pm, first published 9:00pm
Charlton farmer Tim Durre says Inland Rail will unnecessarily destroy his farm.

DARLING Downs, Queensland, farmer Tim Durre says his was initially stunned and disgusted, but later not surprised when the Australian Rail Track Corporation served him with a Notice of Entry.

"The day before, a meeting which has been organised for about three weeks to talk about the future of this farm was cancelled by ARTC just a couple of hours before it was to start, without warning or reason," Mr Durre said.

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"The next communication from ARTC was a Notice of Entry through the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Transport on November 16, saying they were coming on my farm, whether I liked it or not."

Mr Durre has long been in dispute with ARTC over its plans to build a 260 metre wide, 17m high embankment through the heart of the 95 hectare irrigated fodder farm, located just east of Toowoomba, between Gowrie Mountain and Gowrie Junction.

The Notice of Entry issued under the Transport Infrastructure Act allows ARTC to carry out geographical survey work.

"When Inland Rail was first announced, I was told the track would run down the side and across the bottom of this farm," Mr Durre said.

"If they stuck to their original plan, there wouldn't be a problem. Instead they want to put the track straight through the middle, and destroy this farm without even considering any alternatives.

"There are plenty of alternatives for ARTC, but there are no alternatives for us."

ARTC's vision for Tim Durre's Charlton irrigation farm.

What makes Mr Durre's farm unique is that it has has 520 megalitres of water entitlements, including 435ML of high security water.

"The water resource and the proximity to Toowoomba makes this farm irreplaceable," Mr Durre said.

"I can't help but wonder if I am being targeted because the destruction of this farm is seen by ARTC as a way of accessing some of the water it will be needed during construction of Inland Rail."

Not preferred

ARTC said using a Notice of Entry to gain access to a property was not its preferred way of working with landholders.

"ARTC is committed to engaging respectfully with landowners along the Inland Rail route, working respectfully and collaboratively in consultation with landholders and in accordance with appropriate state legislation," the statement reads.

"When negotiation fails, ARTC has no option but to apply to the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Transport for a Notice of Entry.

"Once granted, this allows ARTC to undertake the necessary work to inform the design of Inland Rail and meet the regulatory environmental approval requirements."

ARTC said it was satisfied all of the relevant requirements to access Mr Durre's property had been met.

"Even after obtaining a Notice of Entry, ARTC will continue to work with landowners to minimise the impact of the necessary survey works," the statement reads.

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Mr Durre said he had heard of about 18 Notice of Entry being issued to farmers who have refused ARTC access along the proposed Border to Gowrie Inland Rail route.

"I am certainly not opposed to the Inland Rail," Mr Durre said. "But surely there is a better way of going about building this project.

"A slight readjustment to the alignment of the track would enable this farm to stay in business without compromising any of the objectives of Inland Rail."

ARTC said information gathered from Mr Durre's farm would be used to used to inform the Environmental Impact Statement, a draft of which is currently being assessed by the Queensland Coordinator-General.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Barnaby Joyce said the Federal Government was continuing to work with the Queensland Government to progress a promised business study of the proposed Gowrie to Gladstone Inland Rail extension.

"Further announcements will be made in due course," the spokesperson said.

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