Inland Rail - Border to Gowrie - Frequently asked questions
The following are frequently asked questions about the EIS assessment process for the Inland Rail – Border to Gowrie project.
Next step in the environmental impact statement process
The Coordinator-General has reviewed the submissions received on the Inland Rail – Border to Gowrie draft EIS and has decided additional information is required from ARTC.
Additional information has been sought in several key areas including, but not limited to noise and vibration, traffic and transport, stakeholder engagement, environmental values, flooding, groundwater, economics, social impact and air quality.
ARTC will be providing a written response to the Coordinator-General addressing the submissions received on the draft EIS as part of the revised draft EIS.
The Coordinator-General also decided the revised draft EIS will be publicly notified, and the community will be invited to have their say on the updated information in the revised draft EIS.
No. The finalisation of the EIS is the next stage of the EIS process. This will occur after the additional information is provided by ARTC and publicly notified. For more information on the EIS process, refer here.
Yes. A requirement of the terms of reference is for ARTC to undertake rigorous community and stakeholder engagement during the EIS process.
To ensure this continues to occur, ARTC has been directed to prepare and implement a Community and Stakeholder Engagement Plan. An outline of the plan is included in the draft EIS and will be updated in the revised draft EIS.
To ensure ARTC comply with their community and stakeholder engagement plan after the EIS process is complete, conditions may be set in the project’s evaluation to manage social impacts.
Independent panel of experts for flood studies in Queensland
In June 2020, the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the Department of Transport and Main Roads as representatives of the State of Queensland, jointly established the Independent panel of experts for flood studies in Queensland (the panel).
Five members of the expert panel were appointed:
- Mark Babister, Chair – Managing Director, WMAwater
- Tina O’Connell – Principal Engineer, Hydrology and Hydraulics, HDR
- Ferdinand Diermanse – Expert Researcher, Deltares
- Steve Clark – Managing Director, Water Technology
- Martin Giles – Senior Principal, BMT.
The panel’s focus is investigating whether national and state guidelines, as well as industry best practice, have been applied by ARTC to modelling techniques and outputs to create the existing flood models. The panel will assess four core areas:
The panel will also investigate the design of waterway structures in relation to the Inland Rail in a floodplain environment in Queensland.
Managing the work of the panel is the responsibility of the Australian Government and Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. The panel reports to a Joint Working Group comprising of officers from the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. All panel advice, recommendations and deliverables will be reported to the Joint Working Group.
More details on the panel scope of investigation, and deliverables.
Members of the public can contact the panel regarding the review and report at InlandRailFloodPanel@tmr.qld.gov.au, or in writing to:
The Department of Transport and Main Roads
Inland Rail Team
GPO Box 213 Brisbane Qld 4001.
The panel will review the four coordinated projects’ EISs to inform their assessment of the flooding impacts of Inland Rail, including sections about water resources, hydrology and flood management.
Advice will be provided to the Office of the Coordinator-General by the Joint Working Group that oversees the panel once findings are finalised.
The panel will review the project alignment as selected by the Commonwealth.
The panel will not review alternative alignments or groundwater impacts as this is outside of the panel's scope.
The findings of the panel will inform the Coordinator-General’s evaluation of the EIS.
Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited (ARTC) is an Australian Government-owned corporation and current operator of the Australian freight network, managing and maintaining approximately 8500 kilometres of rail network across five states.
They currently operate under a sub-lease with the Department of Transport and Main Roads on the interstate rail line from Sydney to Brisbane via Bromelton. More about ARTC.
The Commonwealth Government selected the Inland Rail route. Details and history of the alignment can be found at: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/route-history-of-inland-rail-2006-2020/
The Coordinator-General does not determine or amend the routes of the proposed project but makes an assessment and evaluation of the environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposed project and proposed mitigation measures as presented in the EIS.
The B2G rail line is proposed to be located between Gowrie (near Toowoomba) and the Queensland border, approximately 18 km south east of Goondiwindi. The proposed B2G project passes near Yelarbon, Inglewood, Millmerran, Pampas, Brookstead, Pittsworth, Southbrook, Athol and the Wellcamp-Charlton industrial precinct. The proposed route will use existing rail infrastructure including Queensland Rail’s South Western Line and the Millmerran Branch Line.
It connects to the Inland Rail Gowrie - Helidon coordinated project in the north-east and to the proposed Inland Rail - North Star (NSW) to Queensland border project.
The project spans two local government areas including the Toowoomba Regional Council and Goondiwindi Regional Council areas.
Further information on the proponent’s application and draft EIS can be found on the government’s EIS process webpage. For information on the project location please click the map link on the project’s page.
Yes. ARTC referred the project to the Commonwealth Environment Minister for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and it was determined that the project is a controlled action.
The State’s evaluation report on the EIS will assess Commonwealth environment matters and make recommendations for the Commonwealth Government to then consider in finalising the evaluation.
For more information regarding the referral process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) refer to https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/environment-assessment-and-approvals
The B2G project will be a design and construct contract funded by ARTC. The broader Inland Rail Program (including the B2G project) has Australian Government funding.
ARTC has Australian Government funding in grant and equity funds for the full delivery of the Inland Rail Program (including the B2G project).
The EIS process
An EIS is the highest form of environmental assessment in Queensland. It involves a rigorous assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts.
Broadly an EIS is a rigorous and comprehensive environmental impact assessment of a project, involving whole-of-government coordination and public consultation.
An EIS is prepared in accordance with the terms of reference for the EIS and is publicly notified.
The EIS provides a comprehensive description of:
- the current environment in the area of the project
- all potential environmental, social and economic impacts of the project
- proponent proposals to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or offset those potential impacts.
The impacts include direct, indirect and cumulative impacts resulting from the construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the project.
The State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 sets out the EIS process for declared coordinated projects. The Act states that, after the terms of reference for an EIS is finalised, a proponent has 18 months to provide an EIS that is accepted as addressing the terms of reference. This can require several rounds of public consultation.
Timeframes for assessment of the final EIS vary depending on project complexities and the standard of information provided by proponents.
If a proponent needs additional time to prepare and finalise the EIS, they can request an extension of time to the 18-month period allowed for under the Act.
Details of the timeframes granted for the proponent are available on the government’s EIS process
When an EIS is accepted as ‘final’ the evaluation of the EIS proceeds, taking into consideration submissions received, and an evaluation report on the project’s EIS is produced.
The terms of reference for the project state what ARTC must include in the draft EIS, including assessments of traffic, noise, air quality, flora, fauna and flooding. As well as an assessment of the social and economic effects of the project.
The terms of reference also include specific requirements for public consultation to understand specific detail about people’s concerns. ARTC are required to address in the EIS those concerns and the proposed approach to avoid, reduce, manage or mitigate those concerns.
On 29 November 2019 the Australian and Queensland Governments signed a Bilateral Agreement for Inland Rail which will enable the delivery of the project in Queensland.
The Queensland Government through the Department of Transport and Main Roads is working collaboratively with the Australian Rail Track Corporation on environmental planning of the state's requirements and statutory approvals.
For more information about this process see https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/projects/inland-rail
The Act and the Regulation prescribe certain activities as “regulated activities” that are likely to have a widespread and irreversible impact on an area of regional interest. The Act and the Regulation do not apply to Queensland Inland Rail projects as these are not ”regulated activities” under the Act or the Regulation. There is no proposal to amend the Act or Regulation in this regard.
Further online information is available about the Act and the Regulation.
Potential impacts on strategic cropping land will be fully considered and assessed by the Coordinator-General in the evaluation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Inland Rail projects. The Coordinator-General encourages all affected landholders and communities to make submissions on the draft EISs for the Inland Rail projects to ensure all impacts are adequately considered. The proponent for the Inland Rail project, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), has been required to detail the potential impacts on strategic cropping land and propose avoidance and mitigation measures in the EIS.
Senate inquiry into the management of the Inland Rail project
On 17 September 2019, the Senate announced an inquiry into various aspects of Inland Rail. The matter was referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee to consider the management of the Inland Rail project by the ARTC and the Commonwealth Government. The Senate report was tabled on 11 August 2021 which included 26 recommendations.
The Commonwealth Government response to the report was released on 16 December 2021.
More information on the Senate inquiry is available at the Parliament of Australia website.
Details of the EIS assessment process, including the project’s initial advice statement, terms of reference and draft EIS documents, are available for viewing at the department’s website.
You can also contact the government’s EIS process team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information regarding the B2G project, other sections of Inland Rail, and ARTC refer to InlandRailQld@ARTC.com.au
Last updated: 09 Nov 2021