Rail trail to open
A 32 km walking and cycling path along old railway corridors will offer a unique adventure tour for off-road cyclists and hikers and provide an economic boost for the Hunter Region.
Contingent on future funding, the Richmond Vale Rail Trail (RVRT) will run from Pelaw Main near Kurri Kurri to Minmi and across to Hexham, where it will link with another path stretching from Shortland to Tarro along a water pipeline.
Newcastle City Council has appointed a consultant to undertake concept design and environmental impact assessment of the RVRT, which will trace the former Richmond Vale Colliery railway from Kurri to Minmi.
"The Richmond Vale Rail Trail presents an exciting opportunity to open up the stunning Hunter Wetlands National Park to the public, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy this worldrenowned natural feature,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
“I’m excited to see this project move ahead. It will highlight both the conservation effort and history of the Lower Hunter, while delivering substantial economic and social returns to the community.
“I thank the efforts of all partner agencies. The Hexham Wetlands are recognised among the world’s most important ecosystems, and are a biodiversity hotspot."
The next $480,000 planning stage will take around 12 months to complete.
Newcastle City Council is managing the project on a whole-of route basis on behalf of several stakeholders.
Community and land owner consultation are included in the work scope as the project involves private land and tracts owned by Cessnock City Council, the state and Roads and Maritime Services.
While Council is committing a substantial amount to the EIS and concept design, Cessnock City Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Donaldson Conservation Trust are also contributing.
Following an inaugural stakeholder meeting in late 2012, Council agreed to progress the proposal for the RVRT to a feasibility analysis.
The analysis indicated the project, estimated to cost around $15 million, would generate substantial economic benefits for the Hunter and outlined the next steps.