Farmers, residents and even the state's transport service have registered their opposition to plans for the Narromine to Narrabri section of the Inland Rail project.
The 1700-kilometre Inland Rail freight line project will connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland and is expected to create 16,000 jobs and inject more than $16 billion into the Australian economy.
It's being delivered by the government owned statutory corporation the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which says the project will bring huge benefits by linking farmers and producers to national and global markets and reducing the burden on road.
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.
An environmental impact statement for the N2N section was put to public submission by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment before Christmas.
Nearly three-quarters of 86 public submissions opposed the project, concerned it would threaten home valuation, risk ecological damage and not accommodate for flooding.
The Narromine Shire Council said while they were in favour of the project, they had "serious reservations" about the preparation and interpretation of the impacts to agricultural land and argued the EIS should assess an 'impact corridor' which would accurately reflect the local nature of impacts on agriculture.
"The council requests the EIS identify the number of landholders affected by property severance in the Narromine LGA to enable an understanding of the true local impact."
The council also expressed their concerns about the realistic economic, social and environmental costs and benefits that can be expected for the Narromine local government area, along with the lack of adequate information with regard to water demand and flooding impacts.
Transport for NSW flatly opposed the project, complaining that the proposal includes six crossings of roads which would cause a risk of car accidents. The service also warned project modelling had been done for 1800-metre trains, but the project could one day carry freight trains double that length.
Residents and landholders were equally critical.
Narromine Wiradjuri and Wurundjeri nation woman Taje Fowler said the project would destroy culturally-significant plants like lilies, orchids and other herbs, and the project's EIS does not plan to restore them.
"These plants have significance for First Nations people and with less than five per cent of our country with any bushland left, it is not acceptable to destroy more when alternative options are located nearby," she wrote.
Generational farmer Robert Webb said he was concerned with the change of alignment from the east to the west, and said local knowledge of flooding in the area had been ignored.
Detailing the flooding history of the property, and the 1955 flood, Mr Webb said early designs through Dappo, Clearview and neighbouring properties to the north of existing rail was bridged. He said they felt this would accommodate for a repeat 1955 flood, however this was later cast aside in favour of earth embankments which would range in height.
"The alarming aspects of this change to their planning will be an enormous risk of increased flooding to residents in and around the Webb siding outflow area of the Macquarie River. It will further add to potential flooding in the Narromine township," he said.
Armatree farmer and affected landowner Richard Shepherd, also objected to the project with concerns about flooding, and highlighted the railway track would alter natural flows across his farm, exacerbating historical issues with flooding.
Many Narromine submissions criticised the Australian Rail Track Corporation for the lack of transparency when changing the alignment route from the west to the east of Narromine in December 2017.
Narromine's Bob Meadley was concerned with the proposed freight corridor and the impact it would have on those who live close by.
"Take the High Park Development. From a peaceful life these people now have to contend with a railway line on their east which is 1.4 kilometres from High Park Road which bisects this large rural subdivision," he wrote.
"I am told by officers that these people won't be affected by the rail proposal because the closest houses are about 1 kilometre away. Even one officer stated that 'one gets used to it' and that may be true for daytime trains.
"In the dead of night a one kilometre plus double stacked train at 100km/hr will exceed the background noise levels by many decibels above accepted criteria.
"No real care has been taken with existing residents including the 66 sites where noise levels are exceeded, though some may get double glazing of their homes. It is the general noise impact coming to a wonderful peaceful environment that is the major concern."
Narromine resident Michael Bennett held concerns with the EIS "glossing over" issues with regard to property access, vegetation management, construction impacts on their farming operation, water resources and the Euromedah road level crossing, which creates a risk to life.
Just five residents wrote in support of the scheme as designed.
Narrabri's Peter Shepherdson said the project would mean a boost to the community and would create jobs, but at a substantial personal cost to him.
"The problem for us is that we will lose our property and our two homes. The closest house to the rail corridor is only 20 metres," he said.
"Our lifestyle and health will be dramatically impacted."
NSW Farmers and the Country Women's Association also objected. Both organisations have repeatedly threatened legal action over hydrology mapping for the large section of rail line.
The EIS forecasts that the new rail line will indeed affect the course of floodwaters, though not very much. The assessment estimates a total of 22 sensitive buildings in Narrabri and Narromine - homes, educational, health or community facilities or businesses - would flood an additional 10 to 100mm during a flood. All but one of them already flood.
Construction is anticipated to start in late 2021, with trains to be operational in 2025.