Byron Shire Council this week moved a step closer to creating a rail trail in the Byron Shire that will link to the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers rail trail in the north and Booyong, at the Lismore Local Government Area border.
Council resolved to proceed with the planning, approval process and preparation of an application for funding after considering investigative reports on the rail corridor in the shire.
“This was an historic decision of Council, and it was a tough and long debate as many of us support, or have supported, a multi-use rail corridor in the past to keep the possibility of rail returning to our tracks for public transport,” Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon said.
“However, as I said in my speech, it was four years ago that we were investigating the feasibility of rail on a multi-use corridor and since then, we haven’t been able to meaningfully advance the case for trains on our tracks in the Byron Shire.
“Whereas the business case for the rail trail is concrete and real and it’s on show in the Tweed Shire and it’s been funded by government,” he said.
“We owe it to our community to deliver on something now that can happen, that can be used by our residents and their families and that can be optimised to bring a whole raft of other benefits to our community.
“I think it’s time we take the opportunity before us to deliver something meaningful for our community,” Mayor Lyon said.
As well as resolving to proceed with the planning and approval process for a rail trail on the railway tracks, the resolution sets out to seek a lease over as much of the corridor as possible to help:
- Ensure the corridor remains in public hands.
- Enable investigation of options for diverse housing within the corridor.
- Enable the activation of unused space, infrastructure and buildings for community use.
- Allow council to receive income for trail maintenance.
- Allow environmental rehabilitation, including wildlife corridors.
- Other options for public transport.
The resolution also sets out that Council receives an update and the Northern Regional Railway Company degradation study and reiterates Council’s ongoing support for multi-use of the rail corridor between Byron Bay and Mullumbimby.