FARMERS and agents have more questions than answers in the wake of a meeting on the progress of the proposed saleyards at Miners Rest.
City of Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris told users of the existing saleyards at a meeting on Thursday night the council could not reject a planning submission from saleyard developer Regional Infrastructure even if the plans failed to meet users’ minimum standards in terms of size and functionality.
The meeting was hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation at the Ballarat Lodge.
It was attended by Cr Morris and council chief executive officer Anthony Schinck, along with representatives from the Ballarat Stock and Station Agents Association and farmers.
Ballarat Stock and Station Agents Association (BSSAA) vice-president Tom Madden said farmers were less than impressed with what they heard at the meeting.
“The feeling in the room was negative at times,” Mr Madden said. “It was obvious during (Thursday) night’s meeting the saleyard users weren’t happy with how the current situation is unfolding.
“Hopefully the council will support the saleyard users and ratepayers to build a facility that is sufficient to our needs.
“The council needs to show some foresight, looking ahead 20 years time.
“Ballarat is in a central position in the state and we see numbers increasing here while smaller saleyards are closing.”
Cr Morris said it was not that the council would not support the farmers but rather, as the umpire in planning matters, it could not.
“We strongly encourage all uses of the saleyards to engage with Regional Infrastructure to ensure they understand the size of the facility required for the Ballarat region,” Cr Morris said.
Cr Morris attended the special monthly cattle sale at the existing saleyards yesterday.
It has been more than five years since Regional Infrastructure won the tender to build new saleyards and to manage the existing saleyards until the new yards are completed.
BSSAA president Gerry White reiterated the association’s position that users will not accept plans that don’t meet their standards in terms of capacity.
“We had 3500 plus cattle on Friday and we have 10 loading and reloading ramps. It won’t work with a smaller capacity,” he said. “We run one monthly store sale. We have the numbers and we have the buyers.
“The original budget we heard for the new saleyards was $30 million and now we’re hearing $20 million so we are concerned.”
Regional Infrastructure managing director Garry Edwards was unable to attend the meeting after being giving limited notice about the meeting. He said saleyard users were worrying unnecessarily because the final plans have not been finalised.
“We have asked agents what their throughput expectations are for the next five years. We are planning based on that,” Mr Edwards said.
“At present we have not received that information from all the agents so any plans are just a concept until that happens.
“When we have that information we can then make detailed plans. Any new design will incorporate the latest technology and features to prove the most efficient facility with a complete flow-through methodology.”
Mr Edwards said updated plans would be presented to a stakeholders’ meeting in about 12 weeks time. He said it would be the appropriate forum for interested parties to express an opinion.