CONCERN: Robert and Sue Harnett on their farm in Burringbar
CONCERN: Robert and Sue Harnett on their farm in Burringbar John Gass /TWE

Farmers want answers about biosecurity fears on rail trail

FARMERS are still waiting to have their questions answered about the impact the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will have on their properties, as Tweed Shire Council begins its biosecurity assessment of the trail.

The 24km rail trail along the disused rail corridor from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek sparked huge debate earlier this year over whether the existing tracks should be used for recreational purposes or saved in the hopes a train service would return to the shire.

But after the Federal and New South Wales Government gave $13 million in funding for the project, Tweed Shire Council decided to push ahead with opening up the tender process with the option to build the rail trail both on formation or alongside the current tracks.

As works continue, long-time Burringbar dairy farmer Sue Harnett said she was still waiting for council to address her concerns about biosecurity and safety on her property, which will be used as part of the rail trail. Council has engaged North Coast Local Land Services veterinarians to undertake biosecurity risk assessments on all the farms adjoining the proposed rail trail.

"We're not against the rail trail but we're interested in how they're going to control dogs, whether they'll allow horses on the track and the introduction of ticks from international travellers," Ms Harnett said.

"There are already ticks in Northern NSW but for us it's a costly exercise if you get quarantined with ticks."

Ms Harnett said she was disappointed with the lack of consultation with farmers about the rail trail but was hopeful the biosecurity assessment would resolve some of her concerns.

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

"It's more a concern with the lack of consultation but council seems to be addressing that," she said.

"There were a lot of unanswered questions about fences and who would be accessing the track. Those sorts of things haven't been answered but they're starting to address those."

The risk assessments could take up to 12 weeks to complete and will examine risks such as trail users introducing exotic and non-endemic animal and plant diseases to the area, spreading diseases between farms, establishing barriers for stock, the transfer of weeds from one property to another and the potential to take pets on the trail.