Newcastle’s share of the long-awaited Richmond Vale Rail Trail has been given the green light by planning authorities.

The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel approved the development application for the 13 kilometres of the shared track located in the Newcastle Local Government Area.

The Richmond Vale Rail Trail supporters group are welcoming the approval, although sections from Hexham Junction to Tarro and a link with the Shortland Wetlands haven’t yet made the cut.

Vice-president Terry Lewin says it’s exciting to see things fall into place.

“The original community consultations were about five years ago, so it’s taken that long to get to this particular point,” Mr Lewin said.

“Essentially it’s going to be a mix of different approvals as a result mainly of the mixture of terrain that the trail goes through.”

“Into the future, you’ll be able to start down on the lake, on the Fernleigh Track, ride all the way through Newcastle through the Richmond Vale Rail Trail, all the way up to Kurri and then actually connect to other shared pathways.”

The completed track would save cyclists from risking travel on the Pacific Motorway, Hunter Expressway, and New England Highway. 

Mr Lewin says there’s potential for tourism too.

“The absolutely massive thing about this trail, unlike any other trails in Australia, is that it goes through areas that are relatively inaccessible otherwise,” Mr Lewin said.

“By being able to connect to the Hunter Wetlands national park, Stockrington state conservation areas, through a whole lot of tunnels in the Sugarloaf range, you’ll actually be able to access areas that you wouldn’t have been able to access any other way.”