The state government has pushed ahead with changes to the Ballarat City Council’s planning scheme, paving the way for construction of the new saleyards in Miners Rest to begin.
The move comes despite Miners Rest residents lodging an application with Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to fight the proposal by developer Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX).
The move would see the Central Victoria Livestock Exchange relocated from central Ballarat to Miners Rest, where it would cater for up to 70,000 cattle per year.The government fast-tracked a request to rezone the land at Sunrayisa Highway, from farming to a special use zone, after the council approved the proposal in October.
The decision came amid mounting concerns from residents about the health and social impacts of the development. Seven out of nine councillors voted to approve the planning application. Prior to the council vote an independent panel, deemed there was “no credible” reason why the Ballarat Saleyards could not immediately be relocated to Miners Rest.
Committee for Miners Rest (formerly No Saleyards in Miners Rest group) spokesman Grant Tillett said the community were “extremely disappointed” the government had approved the changes pending the outcome of a VCAT hearing.
“The community remains of the firm belief that decision of council to run with application was unwise,” Mr Tillett said. “Assuming the facility even gets built, we sincerely trust that none of the bad things the community identified in relation to the proposal actually come about.”
He said research undertaken by the committee showed the threat of Q fever could not be completely ruled out. “One might have expected a prudent council would have paid attention to this matter,” he said.
Victorian Acting Planning Minister Tim Pallas said the zone change was approved on the provision strict requirements were adhered to by RLX for the new livestock exchange yard. He said controls included ensuring water and soil quality was protected and flood management met stringent requirements. Mr Pallas also said the Environment Protection Authority had set ongoing environmental standards for the site.
“A clear, open and transparent planning process has been followed to ensure the community was able to have its say and its concerns dealt with,” Mr Pallas said.
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