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Inland Rail – Gowrie to Helidon project - Frequently Asked Questions

The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Inland Rail – Gowrie to Helidon project has been released for public comment. Following are Frequently Asked Questions and some answers about the EIS assessment process.

Next step in the environmental impact statement process

  • The draft EIS has been released for public comment. The draft EIS includes sufficient information in response to the project’s terms of reference for the purposes of public notification.

    The release of the draft EIS does not mean that the findings or outcomes have been accepted.

    Once community input has been received during public notification, the Coordinator-General will decide if any additional information is needed from the proponent before the final EIS is evaluated.

  • No. The draft EIS is the next stage of the EIS process. More information on the EIS process.

Community consultation

  • Yes. The project proponent, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), has prepared a draft EIS, which has been released for public notification and comment.

    Members of the public are invited to make a submission on the draft EIS, including on the project’s potential environmental impacts and the effectiveness of the measures proposed to manage those impacts.

    A submission must be ‘properly’ made and relevant to the project but can be in any format – a letter, an email to the project mailbox or using the online Citizen Space tool.

    Submissions should address a particular section of the draft EIS, raise a specific issue and suggest a possible solution.

    For a submission to be ‘properly made’, it must:

    • be made to the Coordinator-General in writing
    • be received on or before the last day of the submission period
    • be signed by each person who makes the submission (or submitted online or by email)
    • state the name and address of each person who makes the submission
    • state the grounds of the submission and facts and circumstances relied on

    A submission that is properly made during public notification on a draft EIS must be considered in finalising the evaluation of the project.

    Advice has also been sought from Commonwealth and State government departments and from local Councils. All submissions received on the draft EIS will be considered before accepting the final EIS and evaluating the project.

    Community input into the EIS process will be important to understand the project’s potential impacts. People’s views about the project are welcome at any stage of the EIS assessment process, in particular, through the provision of submissions made on the draft EIS.

  • 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. The plan is included in the draft EIS, and comments on the plan can be made in a submission on the EIS. The draft EIS also contains a list of community and stakeholder consultation completed over the past two years and consultation underway. The final EIS will provide the details and outcomes of all consultation undertaken.

    To ensure ARTC complies 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.

  • The draft EIS will be available online from Monday 2 August 2021. A copy is also available from the proponent by contacting via telephone 1800 732 761 or email InlandRailQld@ARTC.com.au. An electronic copy of the draft EIS will be available to view between 2 August 2021 and 25 October 2021 at the following venues, during business hours:

    • Gatton Library, Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre, 34 Apex Drive, Gatton
    • Goombungee Library, 89 Mocatta Street, Goombungee
    • Highfields Library, Community Court, Highfields Place, Highfields
    • Laidley Library, 9 Spicer Street, Laidley
    • Toowoomba City Library, 155 Herries Street, Toowoomba
    • State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane
    • National Library of the Australia, Parkes Place, Canberra
    • ARTC Inland Rail Gatton Office, Suite 5, 47 North Street, Gatton
    • ARTC Inland Rail Toowoomba Office, 143-145 Margaret Street, Toowoomba.

    A printed copy will be available to view at the Gatton, Goombungee and Highfields Library and ARTC’s Gatton and Toowoomba Offices at the locations above.

    Submissions on the draft EIS can be made to the Coordinator-General by
    5 pm, Monday 25 October 2021 using one of the following methods:

    1. Online: https://haveyoursay.dsd.qld.gov.au/coordinatorgeneral/inlandrailg2h-deis
    2. Email:  inlandrailg2h@coordinatorgeneral.qld.gov.au
    3. Post:    Attention: The Coordinator-General
      c/ Project Manager, Inland Rail – Gowrie to Helidon project
      Office of the Coordinator-General
      PO Box 15517
      City East Qld 4002 Australia

    All submissions received will be considered in finalising the evaluation of the project.

Independent panel of experts for flood studies in Queensland

  • The Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads jointly established the Independent Panel of Experts for Flood Studies in Queensland (the Flood Panel). The Flood Panel was established to provide expertise and advice on scientific and technical matters related to best practice flood modelling and design of waterway structures in relation to the Inland Rail Program in the floodplain environment.

    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 will focus on investigating whether national and state guidelines, as well as industry best practice, have been applied to modelling techniques and outputs to create the existing flood models. The panel will assess four core areas:

    • extent
    • assumptions
    • application
    • interpretation.

    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 the 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 the 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.

  • Parallel to the EIS process, the flood panel is currently reviewing the draft EIS for the project and is preparing a report.

    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 in the EISs 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 future assessment of the EISs.

The proponent

  • The Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited (ARTC) is an Australian Government-owned corporation and current operator of the Australian freight network, managing and maintaining approximately 8,500 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. You can read more about ARTC on their webpage at: www.artc.com.au.

Project location

  • 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 route 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 proposed G2H project would be located between Gowrie (north-west of Toowoomba) and Helidon (east of Toowoomba) running parallel with the existing rail alignment. It connects to the proposed Inland Rail – Border to Gowrie project at its north-west end and the Inland Rail – Helidon to Calvert project at its south-east end.

    The project would pass near the townships of Gowrie, Charlton, Willowburn, Toowoomba, Withcott, Postman’s Ridge, Lockyer and Helidon.

    The project spans two local government areas (LGAs) including the Toowoomba Regional Council and Lockyer Valley Regional Council LGAs.

    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.

Commonwealth approvals

  • Yes. ARTC referred the project to the Commonwealth Environment Minister for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), 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.

    Submissions on the EIS can include matters of national environmental significance.

    For more information regarding the referral process under the EPBC Act refer to https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/environment-assessment-and-approvals

  • The three sections of the Inland Rail project between Gowrie and Kagaru, including G2H, will be funded through a Public Private Partnership. The broader Inland Rail Program (including the G2H 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 G2H 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 ARTC and further information is available on the G2H project webpage.

    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 is required to address those concerns and the proposed approach to avoid, reduce, manage or mitigate those concerns in the EIS.

  • 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 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 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), is required to detail the potential impacts on strategic cropping land and propose avoidance and mitigation measures in the EIS.

Further information

  • 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 inlandrailg2h@coordinatorgeneral.qld.gov.au.

  • For more information regarding the G2H project, other sections of Inland Rail, and ARTC refer to InlandRailQld@ARTC.com.au.

Last updated: Friday, Jul 30, 2021