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Inland Rail – Helidon to Calvert project - Frequently asked questions

Following are frequently asked questions about the EIS assessment process for the Inland Rail – Helidon to Calvert project.

Next step in the environmental impact statement process

  • The draft EIS was released for public comment between 31 March 2021 to 23 June 2021. The submissions on the draft EIS are being considering by the Coordinator-General and a decision will be made if additional information is requested from the proponent.

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

Community consultation

  • 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.

    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.

The proponent

  • 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.

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 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 proposed H2C project would be located between Helidon (east of Toowoomba) and Calvert (south-west of Ipswich) running parallel with the exiting rail alignment. The project would pass near the townships of Helidon, Gatton, Forest Hill, Laidley, Grandchester and Calvert and part of the alignment would tunnel through the Little Liverpool Range.

    It connects to the proposed Inland Rail – Gowrie to Helidon (G2H) project at its north-west end and the Inland Rail – Calvert to Kagaru project at its south-east end.

    The project spans two local government areas (LGAs) including the Lockyer Valley Regional Council and Ipswich City 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, 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 three sections of the Inland Rail project between Gowrie and Kagaru including H2C will be funded through a Public Private Partnership. The broader Inland Rail Program (including the H2C 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 H2C 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 https://www.dsdilgp.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/assessments-and-approvals/coordinated-projects/current-projects/inland-rail-helidon-to-calvert

    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.

    More information about this process

  • 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.

Further information

Last updated: Thursday, Jun 24, 2021