Rail trail would be 'extremely valuable' economic boost
UPDATE 2.43pm: FUNDING for a rail trail from Casino to the Queensland border is poised to reinvigorate Northern Rivers tourism, the State Government has said.
Tweed Shire Council General Manager Troy Green welcomed today's announcement of funding for a rail trail in Murwillumbah.
He said the rail trail would bring an extremely valuable economic boost to the region, as well as major health and social benefits.
"With the incredible beauty of the land along the disused Murwillumbah to Casino rail corridor and the many attractions the rail trail will link, we're confident this will be one of the most successful rail trails," Mr Green said.
"The experiences of similar rails trails throughout Australia and overseas clearly demonstrate how popular they are in bringing tourism, job creation and long-term financial boosts to the towns and villages along their routes."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said growing tourism in rural and regional NSW was a top priority for the government.
"The NSW Government has invested record funding to turbocharge rural and regional tourism and drive visitation beyond the fringes of Sydney to places like the North Coast," Mr Barilaro said.
"The positive flow-on effects from this tourism asset would be felt right across our regions with more heads on beds, and more tourist dollars ending up in the pockets of local businesspeople."
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the community's crowd funding efforts for rail trails have been astonishing.
"There has certainly been a tangible and measurable statement of support for the rail trail from the community, there's no denying that fact," Mr Provest said.
"The Northern Rivers Rail Trail has enormous potential to enhance the local tourism industry, create jobs and grow the regional economy.
"I look forward to moving this project forward and completing further community and landholder consultation so this project can progress and deliver a fantastic new tourism asset to the North Coast of NSW."
MONDAY 1.12pm: THE Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Adam Marshall, and Lismore MP Thomas George were in Murwillumbah today to announce State Government funding for a rail trail between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek.
Mr Marshall said he hoped that now the State Government have announced their commitment to the trail, the Federal Government would soon follow.
"We're reserving $6.3 million and hopefully the Commonwealth will match that funding, Tweed Shire Council have an application in with the Federal Government at the moment for that funding and their making a contribution of a bit under half a million dollars," Mr Marshall said.
The next stage for the project was for the State Government to gauge community support through community consultations.
"We will begin formal community consultation next month with the communities along the rail trail route, which is a precursor to the introduction of legislation into the State Parliament to legally close that section of the rail line which then allows the construction of the rail trail to get under way," Mr Marshall said.
Mr George said he hoped today's announcement would get the Tweed Shire Council and Northern Rivers Rail Trail Committee closer to their target.
"The Tweed Shire Council and the Northern Rivers Rail Trail have been for some years now trying to obtain funding for this project to go ahead," he said.
"They've continually, as two organisations, been pushing this as one."
"I have had a number of discussions with the office of Fiona Nash and they're now aware that we are making this announcement today and then they have a process they've got to go through now."
Mr Marshall said they hope to receive the Federal Governments decision by the end of August.
Mr George also noted the timeliness of the announcement as the Richmond Valley Council and Lismore City Council have also been working towards a rail trail on their line.
"(With) the support of the community and their fundraising, they will now go ahead to put their application together to be able for us to take that forward to the State and Federal Government as well," he said.