3 September, 2023
Rail Trail future focus of rally
AROUND 100 people who are concerned about the future of Atherton’s Rail Trail have gathered to raise awareness about the need to protect the popular track against development.
The gathering comes in the wake of the decision by Tablelands Regional Council to forge ahead with a management plan that will explore options to allow businesses operating within the Tolga Industrial Estate to expand their properties into the rail trail corridor.
The 19 August event was attended by Mayor Rod Marti and Cr Dave Bilney who have made their stance on protecting the rail trail clear.
Concerned resident Deanna Maich said the rally attracted around 100 people including members of the SAO's (sixties and Over cyclists), and the Green Brigade, who have been volunteer planting along the corridor.
Tablelands Mayor Rod Marti and Cr Dave Bilney, who have made their stance on protecting the rail trail clear, also attended.
“Concerned local residents and corridor users have seen the council sub-lease part of the trail to the Tolga pub and are worried the trail, which is Main Roads land, will be further eroded, with business owners (at Tolga Industrial Estate) being offered a potential deal to buy,” Ms Braich said.
“Community members who have been involved with using and maintaining the corridor, since the train track was removed in the 90s, say once the corridor is sold off, you will never get it back.”
Community member Ross Brown said he attended the rally after receiving a “bureaucratic” response from the council to a letter of complaint about the council’s intention to sub-lease any part of the rail trail to commercial entities.
He said Cr Bilney appeared to be sympathetic to preserving and improving the Atherton Rail Trail, despite the current strong opinions of many of his fellow councillors.
“I began encouraging (ear-bashing) him that there is a sad, and dangerous, lack of balance in our local and world-spanning, industrial-political society,” Mr Brown said.
“That balance needs to be regained and our governing leaders should apply much more value and imperative on the environment, health and the happiness of the general public citizenry - you and me!
“Cr Bilney did say that he has a strong personal support for preserving and improving the rail trail for unimpeded public use.
“The attendees generally agreed that they will be encouraging our honourable councillors to ‘think outside the box’ -- the industrialisation, fiscal-economic, population-growth box – that is rapidly transforming the Tablelands’ relaxed atmosphere, into something not so nice.”
Mr Brown said a letter from the council advised they did not consider his “complaint” to be an administrative issue because he was not “specifically affected and aggrieved” by council’s decision to develop a plan to guide the future development of the industrial estate and the adjacent rail trail.
“Council resolved at its February 2023 meetings to develop a plan to guide the future development of the Tolga industrial estate and the adjacent sections of the rail trail,” the response said.
“At its June 2023 meeting Council resolved to adopt the Tolga Industrial Estate and Rail Trail Development Plan Project Management Plan. The second phase of the development strategy contemplates defining future uses within the rail trail reserve following input from relevant stakeholders.
“Council will seek views from affected Tolga Industrial Estate property owners, the council’s Rail Trail Advisory Committee and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
“Council has now received submissions from several users of the rail trail and these views will be included in the recommended future uses for the further report scheduled to be tabled before Council at its September 2023 ordinary meeting.”