Byron council considers whole-hearted support for rail trail

THE PUSH to establish a Northern Rivers Rail Trail will be boosted if a motion to support the trail is voted in at Byron Shire Council's ordinary meeting today.

Councillor Sol Ibrahim is calling on fellow councillors to write to Ballina MP Don Page "acknowledging and thanking him" for his efforts to secure funding for the rail trail and vote for the council to "fully support" the plan.

Cr Ibrahim says the rail trail will "secure the rail corridor in its entirety in public ownership for future generations", as well as create a new eco-friendly tourism enterprise that will create jobs.

"A very real opportunity now exists for our shire," Cr Ibrahim said in his report to councillors.

"Byron Shire Council must be seen to be actively supportive of this project if we are to secure this funding."

However, not all of the Byron Shire councillors are so enamoured with the rail trail plan.

"Claims that the 'rail corridor' would be 'secure in public ownership' if a proposed rail trail development went ahead are complete nonsense" said Byron Shire councillor, Basil Cameron.

"The rail corridor is already secure in public ownership," Cr Cameron said.

"In fact, the greatest threat to fragmentation and development of the corridor is from the proposed rail trail development.

"Under the heading 'preservation of the corridor only' the Rail Trail Study at page 57 proposes the removal of 'specific planning requirements' for 'future developments over or adjacent to the corridor'.

"This removal of the 'passive protection' meant to ensure that trains could one day run again will 'erode' that possibility and 'provide opportunities to encourage future investment and development' according to the study. (Page 57).

"This is privatisation by stealth of valuable public infrastructure, with the added insult that the community will pay $75 million ... "

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