There is no excuse for the lack of consultation with Narromine landholders within the Inland Rail’s preferred study corridor, the team behind the project said.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) project team addressed about 250 people at a community information meeting at Narromine on Thursday night, with many locals angry they had not been contacted before the government announced its preferred study corridor for the rail line earlier this month.
Inland Rail program delivery manager for NSW and Victoria Olivia Newman said “we don’t have an indication” of how many landholders were not consulted, or how they were missed.
But she did say there was no excuse, and members of the project team apologised for the oversight.
“It’s an honest mistake and I know that they’re just words to the landholders in that area but it was an honest mistake,” Ms Newman said.
“Like I said it’s not something that we intended to do, it was an error on our behalf.
“We just don’t know how it’s happened … It wasn't our intent, we did a fairly in depth consult in March and April this year where we visited more than 450 residents or landowners across the two options across the whole alignment and, like I said, it’s unfortunate that those certain residents were missed.”
One High Park Road resident Andrew Knop claimed he and his wife had spoken to up to 40 landholders in the affected area, and found at least a dozen had been unable to get answers from the ARTC.
“It was interesting to hear that a number of people had been completely omitted from the consultation process,” Mr Knop said.
“When we heard about where the route was potential going to go, which was east of Narromine through the sand hills and potentially through High Park Estate, we talked to over 40 landholders, my wife and I.
“We had rung the 1300 number on the document that had been put in our letterbox. We received no response. We rang it again. We received no response. We ended up ringing the Brisbane office and having to speak to someone directly to actually get somebody to come out and talk to us about what this potentially could mean for High Park Estate.
“When we went and talked to over 40 residents of High Park Estate to say are you aware of it? That our area could potentially be smack-bang in the middle of this corridor?
“A dozen people, at least, said they had rung the 1300 number and said we haven’t heard back from them.
“That, for the record, is how ARTC conducts its community consultation.”
Ms Newman said the team was working to address the oversight, with meetings held with some landowners during the week and after Thursday night’s meeting.
“So what we’re going to do to fix it is that they’re a priority for us and we’ve already started talking with them,” she said.
“We want to make them feel that they are included in the process; that it was an oversight, nothing more, nothing less.”