Community members and stakeholders are encouraged to attend an online or face-to-face information session to submit feedback on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Narromine to Narrabri section of the Inland Rail project.
The Narromine to Narrabri (N2N) project is Inland Rail's longest greenfield section, with 306 kilometres of new rail which will travel through Burroway, Curban, Mt Tenandra and Baradine.
Local community members and stakeholders are being invited to submit feedback on the document until Sunday, February 7.
However NSW Farmers Inland Rail taskforce chair Adrian Lyons told Australian Community Media the Australian Rail Track Rail Corporation (ARTC) have picked the worst time to put the longest section of the project up for consultation.
"It's just made time tight; Christmas time is Christmas time. Every consultation process the ARTC has conducted has been in the middle of planting, middle of harvest and now they're going to push this process at a time when we've just finishing harvest," he said.
The N2N section has been the most controversial section of the project through NSW.
In July last year the NSW Farmers Association and the NSW Country Women's Association began legal action over the Australian Rail Track Corporation's handling of the Inland Rail Project, in particular their hydrology modelling for the section.
They, along with residents, have complained of inadequate consultation over land use concerns with regards to the section of the project.
"They tried to put something on at a time when Christmas is coming. We will have difficulty providing specialists - our legal team - to oversee this," Mr Lyons said.
"We've written to the Deputy Premier and also the Minister for Planning that we would like to have seen this exhibited in February, to give us the time into March, to give us the time to do it.
"We haven't had a response."
Inland Rail stakeholder engagement manager for NSW North Patricio Munozsaid they had extended the period of public exhibition for a period of eight weeks, rather than the standard 28 days, due to the holiday period.
"The EIS has been exhibited over the Christmas period and the department has extended the public exhibition period, so now it runs for a full two months," he said.
"Just to make sure that people get the opportunity to provide informed feedback."
EIS Feedback sessions for community members
Mr Munozsaid Inland Rail had been engaging with the community for several years to help understand how they can deliver the project in the best possible way.
He said feedback on the EIS would help the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment better understand community views and inform their assessment of the project, which will lead to project approval by late 2021, and construction to begin in 2021.
"The EIS is a major milestone for the project, it culminates several years of important work, including field and site investigations and community engagement," he said.
"We're trying to make a complex document as accessible as possible ... I think staying informed of the project and the progress made is really important."
"The purpose of the feedback is so that the federal and state governments have a better understanding of what the community wants of the project, and it allows them to better understand how they assess the project."
Inland Rail will host a number of online and face-to-face sessions to help community members and stakeholders better understand the document, and be there to answer questions.
"The EIS is not only a significant milestone, but it's quite a lengthy document, so it's important to attend the information sessions to get a better understanding of some of the technical aspects of the document," Mr Munoz said.
"It's always handy to speak to some of the specialists, whether they're flooding specialists or property specialists.
"I also think it's important for the department to understand the concerns of the community and the feedback."
So far Mr Munoz said they've received feedback is in regard to hydrology, flooding, cultural heritage and property-related matters.
"It's a really large and interesting project, that's quite complex to deliver. So the questions are sort of geared toward those topics," Mr Munoz said.
Mr Munoz said once the EIS is approved by the department, Inland Rail would continue with community engagement to refine the design of the rail corridor, before engaging with principal contractors to commence construction.
"So we need to wait for the final approval from the department, and then we'll begin discussing with landowners property related matters," he said.
"We're looking at project approval by late 2021 and construction to commence in 2021."
Anyone interested in attending an EIS online information session should call Inland Rail on 1800 732 761 or email email@example.com
The next online session is on January 28, or face-to-face at Soul Food Design Depot from 10am - 2.30pm on January 29.
The EIS is available at collection points across the alignment and is available at the Narromine Shire Council
EIS project summary reveals
The project's EIS, released on December 8, shows the project will largely run on land cleared for agriculture.
It would travel through about 274 properties, plus the Pilliga East, Euligal, Cumbil, Baradine and Merriwindi State forests.
The environmental statement says the project has the potential to sever some properties in two.
"The access arrangements for affected properties would be developed in consultation with landholders during detailed design," the EIS says.
The project would also "result in direct impacts on 25 Aboriginal heritage items/sites located within the proposal site," it says.
"Eighteen of these sites were assessed to have a significance of moderate, or lower. Five sites were assessed as having moderate to high overall significance."
The project will tap about 4625 megalitres of underground water, which could effect water levels in the Great Artesian Basin. Modelling indicates it would cause groundwater drawdown of less than one metre.
The project is forecast to accommodate trains over 1.8 kilometres long and 6.5 metres high - and could be expanded to accommodate trains 3.6 kilometres long. About 14 trains per day would run the route.
Construction is anticipated to start in late 2021, and be operational in 2025.
Works began on the Narrabri to North Star section of the railway line in November last year.
NSW Farmers has repeatedly stated that they broadly support the project, but have concerns about elements of it.