In April 2017, we lodged a State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) application and a Scoping Report to the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) 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 DPE 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 DPE 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 DPE 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 DPE.
Following the submission period, DPE provided us with submissions received and published all submissions on their website. We then submitted a draft Response to Submissions report to DPE 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 DPE in June 2021 and are available on the major projects website.
DPE 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 DPE’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 DPE. 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 DPE 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.
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.
May 17, 2022
North Star to NSW/Queensland Border project update April 2022
This month, we’ve enjoyed getting out amongst local and Indigenous communities along the North Star to NSW/Queensland Border project alignment providing opportunities to build new skills and business capabilities and catching up with locals at the Goondiwindi Show.
March 30, 2022
Gomeroi Nations Tour inspires young people in Boggabilla
Earlier this month, we supported the Gomeroi Nations Tour in Boggabilla, one of the stops in a series of all ages shows by Indigenous artists on the lands of the Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people.
March 30, 2022
Local businesses learn about workforce development
Earlier this month, the Inland Rail Skills Academy hosted a free workshop for local businesses in the Goondiwindi region to provide information about the support available for workforce growth and development, as well as potential future supply opportunities.