DEALS have been locked in with Riverina farmers to acquire their land for a high speed railway.
The chairman of a private group planning a rapid service between Sydney and Melbourne said land holdings between Henty and Culcairn and Finley and Tocumwal had been sealed.
Consolidated Land and Rail Australia’s Nick Cleary said they would be earmarked for new towns slated to be built around stations.
He said the deals meant the land would be under his group’s control, subject to government approval for the project.
Tocumwal’s Ross Bodey, who invited Mr Cleary to speak at a public meeting attended by 175 in his town on Tuesday night, said he had heard directly of deals.
“Farmers have signed agreements to sell their farm at a period of time when it happens,” Mr Bodey said.
“They will get some sort of payment to keep that alive, so if it didn’t go ahead they would keep the money.
“We’ve got that from farmers who have signed the agreements.”
Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton said she was aware of agreements with Henty district farmers.
She said representatives of the private group had visited the area and met with council staff following the project being announced in July.
Mr Cleary said his group, known as CLARA, was keen to build new cities and land deals showed commitment.
CLARA plans to put a proposal for stage one, a Melbourne to Shepparton link, to the Victorian government by early next year.
Mr Cleary said if the government backed the plan, two to three years of consultation was likely to occur before construction in 2020-21.
The Riverina leg would be 12 to 15 years off, with Sydney to Yass stages to precede it.
Mr Cleary saw new towns in the Riverina having 10,000 jobs and a population of 20,000 to 25,000 at the time they link to railway.
He said the “burden of growth” and potential opposition were the primary reasons for wanting new towns to house stations.
Cr Osborne noted Greater Hume’s entire population was 10,500 and she believed there would be little objection from existing towns.
“I think there will be disquiet from the actual landowners because of their long history with their farming properties, but in the towns themselves I can’t see that being an impediment,” she said.
“I think they would welcome growth and what it brought.”