Rail Trails Australia says fears are unfounded

"Bio-risk from the Rail Trail over-blown".
"Bio-risk from the Rail Trail over-blown".

Rail Trails Australia has moved to dismiss fears that the proposed Rail Tail from Armidale to the Queensland border posed a risk to farmers.

A spokesman for the organisation said:  “There are about a hundred Rail Trails in Australia, mostly in Victoria with some in South Australia and Western Australia , many through farming areas, and there have been no incidents”.

He was speaking after fears were voiced by opponents of the conversion of the rail line in the Northern Tablelands to a path for cyclists and walkers. They feared the trail (if it were ever constructed) would pose a danger to the health of herds and crops.

One of the campaigners against the Rail Trail, Rob Lenehan,  said:  "There are issues among land-holders.  Mr Lenehan from the Save the Great Northern Rail Group added:  "Sections of the rail corridor are leased to private graziers who have stock on it.  There are cases where property is divided by the corridor.  There would be bio-security risks."

Further south, the president of the Tamworth branch of NSW Farmers has also voiced concerns.  Kevin Tongue said that a proposed trail there would cut through some properties, far from public roads.

The claims come as new regulations are put in place to protect agriculture from the possibility of devastating infections.

Rail Trail Australia said that if the Trail split property, there were ways of keeping herds and crops uncontaminated, through fencing and four-way gates which allowed cattle and people to cross without coming into contact with each other.