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Darkinjung in the News


Land council job hopes fade as $300m rail project steams on by

The NSW government is under pressure to explain why it has ­decided to build a $300 million rail project on flood-prone land in a quiet rural area — while rejecting a site owned by an Aboriginal land council that desperately wanted the project.

For four years, the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council was in discussions with the NSW government to build the rail facility on its land at Bushell’s Ridge on the NSW central coast, a project the council hoped would bring income and much-needed jobs for its people.

For reasons not fully explained, Transport for NSW has instead decided to build the train maintenance and stabling yard for its new intercity fleet on flood-prone land 20km south at Kangy Angy, in the middle of a small, semi-rural community. Its decision has infuriated local residents.

Darkinjung chief executive Sean Gordon said the land council had spent more than $150,000 on consultants and as recently as March had been presented with new plans by NSW transport officials before it was told its site would not be used. “It’s absolutely disappointing,” he said. “What this project would do is provide an opportunity to create a future industry … in one of the poorest or lowest socio-economic areas on the central coast.”

However, Mike Baird’s office wrote to Mr Gordon saying the Premier was “unable” to meet with him to discuss the project.

The decision to locate the project at Kangy Angy has angered private landowners whose land will now be acquired or who fear their quiet, idyllic lifestyle will be disrupted by the project.

About 30 local property owners have formed a group known as the Kangy Angy Rail Action Group and late last month engaged lawyers to help them mount a legal challenge. The group’s chairman, Tony Caldersmith, who has been ­advised that part of his land will be acquired, said the area was “completely inappropriate” for the rail yard because it was prone to ­severe flooding and was home to a “unique little rural community”.

“This decision fails the commonsense test,” Mr Caldersmith said. “The site is completely ­inappropriate.”

Kangy Angy residents yesterday met federal Liberal MP Karen McNamara, who represents their seat of Dobell, to discuss their concerns. Ms McNamara told The Australian she agreed “more answers” were needed from the NSW government. “This is a project with huge ramifications and those residents most affected have every right to know exactly what is planned for their neighbourhood,” Ms McNamara said.

Retired engineer Neil Bolte is also furious about the prospect of the rail project being built near his home and has written to the government demanding answers about what noise and environmental assessments have been carried out.

Last month he met Scot MacDonald, NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast, to raise his concerns and to question why the project would not be built on the Darkinjung site. “We are still as much in the dark as when we started,” he said.

Mr Gordon said he was concerned the decision was made to abandon the Darkinjung site because it could conflict with plans for the controversial Wallarah Two coal project.

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman denied that was the case. She said Kangy Angy had been chosen “because of its proximity to the railway line and alignment with other operational requirements.

Not only is the government’s decision unrelated to the Wallarah coal project, Transport for NSW advised that the requirements for a maintenance and ­stabling facility are significantly different to those for the stabling yard that was previously discussed with the land council.”

She said the rail project was in its early stages and work would soon start on detailed ­design, environmental and ­planning work, including noise and further flooding evaluations.

Mr Gordon said the government had good policies in place to work with and engage with ­Aboriginal landowners but had failed to put them into practice.

“Here’s an opportunity to do that and straight away they dodge us or bypass us and go to a site that is going to have a broader negative impact on the central coast community,” he said. 

The Australian - November 3rd 2015. 



Land Council's rail rage
By Mary-Louise Vince

The Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council has described as a 'joke' and 'disgrace', the state government's decision to build its new $300-million rail maintenance facility at Kangy-Angy on the New South Wales Central Coast .

The new rail yard is being developed for the new Intercity Fleet which is due to start rolling out from 2019, creating 100 local jobs.

While the project has been hailed as a win for the local economy, the Land Council is fuming over the decision.
The Council has been negotiating with the government for the past four years over a parcel of land at Bushells Ridge near Wyong for the facility.

Chief Executive Sean Gordon believes ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Wallarah Two coal mine is the reason why it was overlooked for the deal.

Darkinjung's proposed site is in the same area earmarked for the Wallarah underground mine.
Mr Gordon said there was no doubt the rail facility would have impacted on the mine's rail spur if the rail development were to go ahead on the site.

"Baird doesn't want to make a decision to not allow the mine to go ahead and therefore he's completely stayed away from it to allow this mine to have a life" he said.

"It's quite disappointing that this government wants to keep this mine alive.

"Instead of looking at infrastructure projects where there are no residents and no private landowners...affected by a rail facility, they approve it an Kangy Angy where people are at threat of losing their homes."
Mr Gordon said he is disgusted with how the matter has been handled.

"There has already has been some design work going on it and some investigations done on vegetation and different things so it's quite disappointing that they've not come back and followed up with us an to have at least had the conversation and again as I said, it's an absolute disgrace.

"It's not in-line with their current policies in what they're trying to push in Aboriginal economic development."
Transport NSW has confirmed several properties will have to be acquired for the development at Kangy Angy between Ourimbah and Tuggerah - a move which has already angered at least one affected resident.

Wyong Labor MP, David Harris said 100 news jobs was good news for the region but has also questioned the location of the new rail facility.

"Trains will have to run back to Wyong and Warnervale where as if it was located south of Wyee then the trains would be able to run all the way through so I question why they've chosen this site particularly but at the end of the day we have to welcome the jobs" he said.



Aboriginal Land Councils want a say

Menindee Ridge - New 109 lot development.