Rail freight environment standards: NSW Farmers say Boree Creek line at risk from emissions and noise rules

NSW Farmers has teamed up with the freight and grain industry to protest against new environmental rail rules it says will will force the grain harvest onto the road. The group has written to NSW Environment minister Matt Kean warning of "unintended consequences of proposed new EPA environmental standards associated with future rail freight operations". The letter stated that the proposed new standards ""If not carefully designed and implemented...will result in rail freight operations ceasing by 2025" on the Boree Creek regional grain branch line.

NSW Farmers Wagga district branch chairman Alan Brown said the new draft diesel engine emissions and noise restrictions would increase costs for farmers and would not deliver a net gain for the environment. "We're a trading nation, we need to trade and with bulk commodities like grain there are only two primary methods of moving them: by rail or by road. "If you remove the rail then the only option is by road and that is farm more destructive in terms of wear on the roads and it creates more carbon emissions through using more fuel to shift the grain. "It makes no sense to knock out rail on technical issues like this," he said. Mr Brown said moving the grain harvest by road would be less efficient and would increase costs for farmers. "The increased costs will go back to the grower...it makes no economic sense to remove rail when it's an option," he said. Mr Kean said the government would be considering feedback on the draft regulations. "Consultation on the proposed changes recently closed and we will be considering all issues raised by stakeholders, including the impact on regional businesses from the drought and bushfires," he said. "This is about getting the balance right between the economic and operational requirements of industry and the community's expectation to be protected from unreasonable noise and air pollution. "The Government has a commitment to increase the share of freight on rail and this proposal will complement that commitment by building on work already undertaken by industry." The group protesting the new regulations included Pacific National, GrainCorp, Manildra Group, Southern Shorthaul Railroad, Qube Holdings, Australasian Railway Association, SCT Logistics, Genesee and Wyoming Australia, LINX Cargo Care Group and CF Asia Pacific.

Shooters Fishers and Farmers Murray MP Helen Dalton said she would also raise concerns with Mr Kean next week. "I'm extremely concerned by the impact of these proposed new standards on regional grain branch lines, particularly Hillston and Boree Creek," she said. "It's just bizarre, the proposed EPA environmental standards are actually likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions by forcing more trucks onto the road. "Forcing rail freight operations to shut up shop will be devastating for drought hit areas. "It's the exact opposite of what the NSW Government keeps promising to do: getting the trucks off the road."

NSW Farmers has teamed up with the freight and grain industry to protest against new environmental rail rules it says will will force the grain harvest onto the road. The group has written to NSW Environment minister Matt Kean warning of "unintended consequences of proposed new EPA environmental standards associated with future rail freight operations".
The letter stated that the proposed new standards ""If not carefully designed and implemented...will result in rail freight operations ceasing by 2025" on the Boree Creek regional grain branch line.

NSW Farmers Wagga district branch chairman Alan Brown said the new draft diesel engine emissions and noise restrictions would increase costs for farmers and would not deliver a net gain for the environment.
"We're a trading nation, we need to trade and with bulk commodities like grain there are only two primary methods of moving them: by rail or by road. "If you remove the rail then the only option is by road and that is farm more destructive in terms of wear on the roads and it creates more carbon emissions through using more fuel to shift the grain.

"It makes no sense to knock out rail on technical issues like this," he said. Mr Brown said moving the grain harvest by road would be less efficient and would increase costs for farmers.
"The increased costs will go back to the grower...it makes no economic sense to remove rail when it's an option," he said.

Mr Kean said the government would be considering feedback on the draft regulations. "Consultation on the proposed changes recently closed and we will be considering all issues raised by stakeholders, including the impact on regional businesses from the drought and bushfires," he said.
"This is about getting the balance right between the economic and operational requirements of industry and the community's expectation to be protected from unreasonable noise and air pollution.

"The Government has a commitment to increase the share of freight on rail and this proposal will complement that commitment by building on work already undertaken by industry."
The group protesting the new regulations included Pacific National, GrainCorp, Manildra Group, Southern Shorthaul Railroad, Qube Holdings, Australasian Railway Association, SCT Logistics, Genesee and Wyoming Australia, LINX Cargo Care Group and CF Asia Pacific.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Murray MP Helen Dalton said she would also raise concerns with Mr Kean next week.

"I'm extremely concerned by the impact of these proposed new standards on regional grain branch lines, particularly Hillston and Boree Creek," she said.
"It's just bizarre, the proposed EPA environmental standards are actually likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions by forcing more trucks onto the road.
"Forcing rail freight operations to shut up shop will be devastating for drought hit areas.

"It's the exact opposite of what the NSW Government keeps promising to do: getting the trucks off the road."

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