The North Star to Border project is in the reference design stage


During the reference design stage, we undertake extensive field studies to gain an understanding of the environmental features, technical challenges and opportunities. These investigations will continue as we consult with landowners, government and other key stakeholders in the community.

Environment planning and approvals

In April 2017, we lodged a State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) application and a Scoping Report to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) for the North Star to NSW/QLD Border project.

We also lodged a referral with the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

In May 2020, we submitted the project’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to DPIE for initial review.

This review is an important step to ensure we have adequately met the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements, or SEARs.

The EIS outlines potential impacts of the project for consideration by DPIE and captures information gathered from consultation with landowners and other stakeholders such as councils, industry and the wider community.

The EIS was formally lodged with DPIE in August 2020 as required under the SSI assessment process.

The project’s EIS was put on public exhibition for 42 days, from 26 August to 6 October 2020. During this time, community members and other stakeholders were able to provide feedback and make formal submissions to DPIE.

Following the submission period, DPIE provided us with submissions received and published all submissions on their website. We then submitted a draft Response to Submissions report to DPIE on 26 February 2021 for review.

As part of the project’s response to submissions phase, we developed several reports including a Preferred Infrastructure Report to detail proposed updates and sensitivity testing of the Macintyre River floodplain model and a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report. These reports were submitted to DPIE in June 2021 and are available on the major projects website.

DPIE will now complete its assessment of the project and make a recommendation to approve the project or not, including either conditions of consent or reasons for refusal. The recommendation is referred to the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, or a delegate, for determination. Please visit DPIE’s website for more information on the process being followed to assess the project.

Crossing the Macintyre floodplain

An important part of our work on this project is developing technical and engineering options for crossing the Macintyre River floodplain.

We developed a detailed flood model of the Macintyre floodplain catchment area, using data from many different sources. It is based on existing flood modelling information which was developed by the Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Directorate of DPIE. The model also considers predicted future impacts from climate change.

Since August 2018, our project team has met with landowners whose properties were surveyed for historic flood markers to validate the Macintyre flood model. Feedback has generally been that it reflects existing flood behaviour, however we will continue to review the model as we progress.

Hydrology-related submissions received during the project’s EIS exhibition requested additional modelling, including impacts for the 1976 flood event. We have worked collaboratively with DPIE to address this via a hydrology working group.

Our flood model has been compared to the existing Border Rivers Floodplain Management Plan model and updated to incorporate feedback from an independent review facilitated by Goondiwindi Regional Council, the latest LiDAR data and the Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) 2019 guiding principles.

The latest calibration is more robust than previous model calibrations, and the hydraulic model incorporates 2019 LiDAR data for a more accurate representation of the current ground conditions.

We will continue to work with directly affected landowners, local flood specialists, government and the broader community to incorporate their feedback and input into the reference design.

Aerial view of Greenfield study area, Macintyre River near Boggabilla, New South Wales.

Reference design and environmental assessment

Future Freight Joint Venture was awarded a contract to complete reference design and environmental assessment work for the North Star to NSW/QLD Border project. We worked together to:

  • manage the delivery of technical and environmental studies
  • produce a reference design
  • produce environment and primary approvals documents for submission to the NSW and Australian Governments.

This work gave us a better understanding of the project’s design requirements and built on earlier investigations and community feedback. The investigations also helped us identify where in the 100-metre wide Focused Area of Investigation the final 40 to 60-metre-wide rail corridor was to be located.

Process to assess New South Wales major projects

This fact sheet outlines the key steps in assessing Inland Rail major projects in New South Wales.

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Learn more about what’s involved in the reference design stage.

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