Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line.
Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line. Scott Powick

Council set to adopt changes to move rail trail along

PLANS to establish the Northern Rivers Rail Trail are gathering speed as Tweed Shire Council looks set to make the necessary changes to the Tweed Local Environmental Plan 2014 to allow work to start.

Council unanimously decided in June to amend the LEP to accommodate the necessary single planning approvals pathway for the proposed 24km rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek.

The $13 million project is expected to be completed by 2020 to meet funding deadlines set out by the Federal and NSW governments, after both provided $6.5 million in funding.

Council this week announced it was seeking Expressions of Interest for tender of the rail trail project.

After conducting public consultation regarding the changes, which prompted responses from three residents and four government agencies, council staff have recommended the proposed LEP amendment be adopted at Thursday's meeting.

While staff made contact with 73 owners of land adjacent to the railway corridor, Mayor Katie Milne has asked council for better consultation with any residents potentially impacted by the project.

"I did come across an adjacent landowner at one of the markets and they expressed some really significant concerns they hadn't been consulted,” Cr Milne said during Thursday's council meeting.

"They felt they didn't know what was happening and everything was left too late before they can get their consideration across. They wanted to speak to staff in a group setting.”

Council's engineering director David Oxenham said staff were continuing to work with landowners but some people had proven difficult to contact.

"We've been undertaking consultation with all the landowners that we've been able to contact and who have wanted to speak with us,” Mr Oxenham said.

"We're progressively going through those and meeting with them and holding events. We've got a workshop planned with the councillors on Thursday to give a status report.”