The Miners Rest saleyards development is full steam ahead despite a major shareholder divesting its interest in the company managing the controversial multi-million dollar project.
Rural services company Landmark Operation has announced it has divested its half-share interest in Regional Infrastructure Pty Ltd (RIPL) which manages Ballarat’s much-maligned cattlle yards.
Despite a significant shake-up of shareholders, Ballarat mayor Des Hudson told The Courier he did not foresee any impacts on the timeline set out for the completion of the development.
He said Landmark’s desire to spilt from RIPL was discussed at a confidential high level stakeholder management meeting in May.
“My understanding is that it’s part of their (Landmark’s) overall business plan to have various investments in whole range of different companies,” Cr Hudson said.
“I don't see the selling of the shares impacting the overall development of the saleyards in Miners Rest.”
He said despite past controversies surrounding RIPL’s handling of the $20 million-plus project, he had full confidence in the company.
“We’ve had different frustrations over the years in relation to lines of communication and a lack of open dialogue but ultimately RIRL have the expertise in running (cattle) yards,” he said.
“That’s why the council divested out of running the saleyards and put it in the hands of RIPL to ensure it wasn’t poor business.”
RIPL’S managing director Gary Edwards said the exit of Landmark from RIPL, completed in early June, had been on the cards for at least 18 months.
When asked by The Courier if the Ballarat public could remain confident in the management of the project in the wake of the spilt, Mr Edwards said Landmark had only ever been a passive investor in RIPL.
He said ownership of RIPL had been 100 per cent acquired by funds management company EG Agriculture.
“It has made no difference to the daily operations and management deals that RIPL has with its business partners,” he said.
“It will make no difference to the outcome of the new saleyards. It is business as usual for us.”
Mr Edwards said all but one agency had granted works approvals for the Miners Rest site.
He said RIPL were only waiting for an Environmental Protection Authority report – which would have to be approved by the City of Ballarat – before works commenced.
He expected the first sod to be turned at the site as early as October this year.
Region Director at Landmark Operations Rob Clayton told Fairfax Media this week the company had a difference of opinion to the direction of RIPL moving forward.
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