DON’T rip it up.
That’s the challenge a group of farmers have given New England Rail Trail project organisers in their bid to convert the line into a recreation area for walkers and bike riders.
The issue is dividing the small town of Guyra, with petitions for and against the plan distributed among shops and business.
Rob Lenehan wants the line to remain because “it is the historic Great Northern Railway and it’s a national asset”.
The Save the Great Northern Rail Group was formed yesterday after concerned community members met to discuss the rail trail.
Group members believe the rail trail proposal fails to address concerns over cost and funding, fire safety, grazing rights and weed control.
Spokesman Rob Lenehan said the group was formed so people have a way of voicing their opposition to the trail.
“We have spoken with every landholder who shares a boundary with the rail line from Black Mountain to Ben Lomond,” he said.
“Not one of them is in favour of the development.”
Community support for the project has been mostly positive so far and Guyra shire mayor Hans Hietbrink says “a lot of the fears are not well founded.”
“They [farmers] will certainly not be losing their grazing rights,” he said.
New England Rail Trail steering committee chairman David Mills has scheduled a meeting with NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian in August to present a proposal.
“I am 100 per cent committed to the project,” Mr Mills said.
“I will be delivering the proposal when I meet with the minister in August.”
Manager of the railway resource centre for the Australian Railway Historical Society Bill Phippen weighed in this week, saying “a derelict railway isn’t much of an advertisement for anything.”
A meeting is scheduled between those for and against the project this Sunday with both groups seeking to address concerns.