Mark Harris

Mark Harris

Abstract | Vegetation Management in the Central Queensland Coal Network Rail System

Aurizon is an Australian rail-based transport business that, amongst other interests, owns and operates the 2,670 km Central Queensland Coal Network (CQCN) rail corridor.

The rail corridor connects mines in Central Queensland to three major port facilities on Queensland’s east coast at Gladstone, south of Mackay and north of Bowen. The effective management of vegetative regrowth within the CQCN is essential to ensure the safe and reliable functioning of the rail network, the protection of assets and the safety of workers and the general community when they interact with the CQCN at the various level crossings of the rail network. This includes, but is not limited to, improving sight distance visibility of trains and maintenance vehicles, maintaining visibility of signals, preventing damage to overhead electrical equipment, reducing bushfire hazards, and protecting and facilitating maintenance of rail infrastructure.

Management of vegetation within and external to the corridor is subject to a number of statutory legislative controls, at the Commonwealth and State Government levels, which regulate clearing activities. The presentation will provide an overview of the way in which Aurizon manages vegetation within the CQCN to meet its legal obligations and minimise impacts to adjoining ecological values. It will also touch upon some of the challenges presented by inconsistencies in the application of Commonwealth and State legislative processes to vegetative offsets during the establishment of greenfield corridors.

Bio | Mark Harris

Mark is an Environment Manager with over 15 years’ experience in the mining and resources sector and associated industries. For the past five and half years, Mark has worked for Aurizon Operations where as its Principal Environment Advisor he is responsible, amongst other things, for:

  • Preparation of key management plans and guidelines associated with noise, waste, contaminated land, soils, vegetation, weeds, wildlife management, coal dust, waterways and wetlands;
  • Obtaining and facilitating the implementation of planning and environmental approvals; • incident management
  • Liaison with all tiers of government.

Prior to his current role, Mark worked as an environmental consultant for 10 years (with a focus on ecology), for major linear infrastructure operators, developers, State and local government agencies and resources companies. During this period, Mark completed numerous ecological surveys across a range of landscapes, from rainforest and coastal dunes to semi-arid environments throughout Queensland and New South Wales.