Ballarat saleyards works to begin in April

Physical works at the controversial Ballarat saleyards relocation are expected to begin in April. 

FEARFUL: Miners Rest residents Eileen McGhee and Werner Oellering remain concerned about flooding, health risks and increased traffic congestion as a result of the saleyards relocation.

FEARFUL: Miners Rest residents Eileen McGhee and Werner Oellering remain concerned about flooding, health risks and increased traffic congestion as a result of the saleyards relocation.

The developers behind the $23 million project, Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX) previously estimated the first construction works would begin this month. 

RLX revealed on Wednesday initial earthworks were not planned to start until early April with negotiations underway with Ballarat region earth-moving contractors.

The developers said initial works at the Sunrastia Highway site would include flood mitigation, drainage channels, dams, road works including access to the highway, foundation works for the stockyards and tree planting. But the commencement of physical works remained dependant on weather conditions.  

Meanwhile, the Miners Rest community remained gripped by fears of flooding, health risks and increased traffic congestion as result of the development. 

Months before construction is scheduled to start at the Sunraysia Highway site, Committee for Miners Rest spokesman Werner Oellering told The Courier residents were writing to the state and federal politicians in a last ditch attempt to halt the development. 

Mr Oellering said the group had penned letters to Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy and deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce voicing their health concerns surrounding the development.

He added residents were also concerned about the impact the influx of traffic would have on the township with large vehicles expected to be travelling in and out of the saleyards precinct on a daily basis. Mr Oellering said residents were forced to withdraw to two Victorian Civil Action Tribunal applications contesting the development due to hefty financial costs.

“From the beginning of this entire thing we have said the location of the saleyards is completely wrong,” he said. “Our objections remain the same. We believe it’s far too close to in proximity to residents and to the primary school, traffic will significantly increase, their putting people’s health at risk and there has been no real work done alleviate any of this.” 

However, RLX maintained work is already underway to establish a community consultation group with a first meeting planned for February, aimed at improving relations with the community.

An RLX spokeswoman said local community groups with an interest in the project have been invited to nominate a representative to join the group. 

“An independent facilitator has also been engaged to ensure meetings are constructive and minutes are recorded,” she said.