Rail approval a major milestone

PREMIER Anna Bligh has announced that the Co-ordinator-General has approved the proposed Hancock rail corridor – an essential milestone towards an Alpha coal mine which could create up to 1600 direct jobs.

Ms Bligh said the corridor had been approved as an Infrastructure Facility of Significance under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.

The proposed 495km standard gauge railway would run from Hancock’s proposed Alpha Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin to the port at Abbot Point.

“This approval can only be sought by projects which meet the strict definition of an infrastructure facility and also have the potential to contribute to the state through economic growth or new jobs,” Ms Bligh said.

“It’s an important milestone towards a project that could help open up the Galilee Basin for the first time.

“This rail project alone has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and inject billions into the Queensland economy.”

Hancock Coal Pty Ltd is the proponent of the proposed $2 billion new rail project which could move bulk coal from Hancock’s proposed Alpha Coal mine to the port of Abbot Point.

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said approval was not given lightly as it ultimately gives the Co-ordinator-General the power to acquire land for project infrastructure development.

“However, compulsory acquisition is considered by the government as a last resort and before such a power is used Hancock will have to prove to the Co-ordinator-General that they had taken all reasonable steps to reach voluntary agreements with landholders, including those who hold or claim to hold native title,” he said.

“The declaration of the IFS means Hancock now has a defined corridor within which they can continue to study the feasibility of their plans.

“This decision gives greater certainty in support of ongoing planning and potential investment for the proposed $5.5 billion Alpha project and the estimated $6.5 billion proposed Hancock Kevin’s Corner project in the Galilee Basin.”

The project is subject to an ongoing Environmental Impact Statement under assessment by the State Government’s independent Co-ordinator-General.

The CG Colin Jensen publicly advertised his consideration of Hancock’s request in February 2010 in major Queensland newspapers and 28 submissions were received.

The proponent has indicated preliminary discussions have begun with impacted landholders to negotiate access to land for the rail corridor.

“This rail project alone has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and inject billions into the Queensland economy.”

Premier Anna Bligh

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