It is the nature of the activity, rather than the organisation itself, that will determine whether a permit is required. Whether an activity is deemed commercial depends on a range of factors; for example, some not-for-profit organisations conduct tours and/or activities for financial return over and above base operating costs. In this situation, the operator would require a licence.
A commercial tour activity will include some or all of the following elements:
- a principal commercial purpose or aim to profit
- the activity is ongoing or regular
- an entry, participation or membership fee is collected to cover indirect expenses as well as direct expenses
- the activity, course, tour or transport is provided free of charge but in conjunction with another commercial product or service
- the activity is available to the general public rather than a specific membership group
- a service (such as a guide or experience) is provided and they are paid or compensated.
Transportation services to or from the Rail Trail, without a guided tour, do not require a permit through the Rail Trail Pass program.
Private groups (30 people or less) and individuals undertaking recreational or educational activities (and not conducting a business or commercial activity) do not require a permit through the Rail Trail Pass program. A ‘commercial activity’ is not occurring where an activity may be better described as a form of recreation, a hobby or a sporting activity where no profit is being made.
The following entities do not require a Rail Trail Pass permit:
- sport and recreation clubs (please refer to Events and Filming permit requirements)
- groups and individuals that are not business entities who provide services to their members and do not receive financial reward beyond direct cost recovery (e.g. bushwalking clubs, bird watching groups)
- schools, TAFEs and universities where the activities are provided as part of the curriculum
- those conducting a one-off event or a series of events in a year approved by Rail Trail (please refer to the Events and Filming permit requirements)
- those with approval from Council provided via another Council event or small-scale event process.
Note – some of the above entities may require a consent (outside of the Rail Trail Pass permit) for an organised activity. Please note that all clubs, groups, and organisations wishing to undertake activities that do not require a licence will still be expected to adhere to the same activity, environmental and safety standards required of Rail Trail Pass permit operators when undertaking activities on the Rail Trail.
Rail Trail commercial tours can be one-off activities, or they could be recurring. In some instances, a Rail Trail Pass permit may be issued for a specified term (maximum 12 months) to cover recurring events. However, the Rail Trail commercial tour operator must advise Council of each individual Rail Trail commercial tour, in advance (minimum of two (2) weeks’ notice is required).
For the avoidance of doubt, the following types of organised activities are excluded from this application process:
- any council-led activities or events
- markets held at the Murwillumbah Railway Station or other historical station platform locations
If you are unsure whether a Rail Trail Pass permit is required or not, please contact email@example.com with details of your on-trail commercial tour. If a Rail Trail Pass permit is required, an application form is accessible on the website.
Once all the required information is received, Council will assess your application and consult with other parties who may be affected.