Byron Shire Council backs Northern Rivers rail trail plan
RAIL Trailers rejoiced and TOOT members were trumped at yesterday's Byron Council meeting.
Councillors voted to throw further support behind plans to build the Northern Rivers Rail Trail on the rail corridor between Casino and Murwillumbah.
Council will now write to Ballina MP Don Page, thanking him for his efforts so far in securing funding for the project and noting that council fully supports the NRRT project.
In a last-bid attempt to change council's mind, members of the rail advocate group Trains On Our Tracks packed the council chambers to plead with councillors not to support the project in this way.
TOOT favours the retention of the rail corridor as it is and the return of regular rail services within the region.
During council access, TOOT members brandished a petition with 2000 signatures supporting the return of trains to the corridor.
Geoff Meers, from Northern Rivers Rail Trail Incorporated, applauded council's vote yesterday.
"Byron Shire has always tried to have a bet each way on the Rail Trail," Mr Meers said .
"They have seemingly supported the rail trail while still supporting the option of a return of rail.
"Lismore Council and Tweed Council have always been 100% behind the concept and this will lock Byron in behind the plan.
"This will gives Mr Page the assurance he needs about local support so he can go in and lobby harder for the State Government funding."
Mr Meers does not share the fears held by some that the decision would clear the way for an eventual sell-off of the rail corridor or would sound the death-knell for the return of rail at a future date.
"We will end up with a well-maintained rail corridor making it easy to return rail services," he said.
Councillors Richardson, Cameron, Dey and Spooner voted against the motion.
"This is privatisation by stealth of valuable public infrastructure, with the added insult that the community will pay $75 million to make it happen," Cr Cameron said.