Locals say no to Gillieston abattoir

By Kyabram Free Press

A NEW community group has been formed to contest a proposed $30 million abattoir at Gillieston, 20km east of Kyabram.

The Gillieston Action Group is concerned about increased traffic movements, noise from sheep awaiting processing, yarding noise, security lighting for the 24-hour operation, odour from the industrial waste water and odour.

Meatworks Australia is proposing the construction of a new sheep processing abattoir at 630 Lancaster-Mooroopna Rd, employing up to 120 people in a 24-hour operation.

The new facility will have a wastewater treatment system, a sewage treatment plant, recycled water winter storage ponds and an onsite recycled water flood irrigation scheme.

The facility will operate about 275 days a year, processing up to 3000 head of sheep per day, operating Monday to Friday, and some Saturdays.

Farmer Luke Haines who is a member of the new community action group, lives about 1km north east of the property and is concerned about odour that will travel on the south western breezes, and the noise emanating from the 24-hour operation.

He was also surprised that a large scale, commercial business could be allowed in a farming zone.

"We've been here about 13 years, but if we knew this would be allowed, we may not have purchased," he said.

His family runs a beef operation on about 44 hectares.

"We're concerned about the level of odour that will be generated from the waste management facility," he said.

"If it is going to be recycled for irrigation, they are going to need a lot of water to shandy it."

Kevan Horder and Cassandra Rowe bought a house on a small lot in Mulcahy Rd, over the road from a former dairy farm in July last year.

"We bought in a farming area, so we're quite prepared for agriculture, with animals and machinery around us, but not for such a big operation like this,'' Kevan said.

"If we had known the zone allowed industrial style developments we would probably not have bought here."

They are among 13 objectors to the planning application, who are worried about how the sheep abattoir would affect the amenity of the area with noise, dust, and odour issues.

But of particular concern is the danger of transmission of disease.

Cassandra, who has qualifications in animal health, is worried about zoonotic diseases like Q Fever which can be passed from animals to people.

The company said measures proposed for the operation will reduce the already low risk of Q fever on-site to spread off the site to low.

"The potential risk from the identified zoonotic infections has been identified and best practice measures are implemented to ensure that, in each case, the overall risk level to the Meatworks staff and contractors as well as to persons in the surrounding areas is low," the application said.

The planning application is with the Environment Protection Authority which is considering the objections and feedback from the recent community meetings.