By Mitchell Clarke
Baw Baw Shire Council have stalled a decision on whether they’ll approve the application to build a contentious $13 million saleyards development in Longwarry.
The matter was heard during a closed council meeting on Wednesday 8 April following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s formal objection to the current application.
The EPA’s objection was based around the application’s failure to address a range of issues including odour, noise and light emissions from the site.
It’s understood a works approval application is currently under technical assessment, and the EPA said they’d reconsider the proposal once all documents were complete.
Following the council meeting, Baw Baw mayor Danny Goss said council officers brought the application to the council in line with the “normal planning application process”.
“Taking into consideration the amount of investment undertaken by the applicant into the process, it’s reasonable and fair to defer the decision,” Cr Goss said.
“This will allow the applicant to continue to progress the EPA’s works approval process and provide any other outstanding information required by council’s planning team before we ultimately decide on the application.”
Longwarry Saleyards Pty Ltd proposes to build the saleyards on 22.8 hectares of farm zoned land which will see up to 120,000 cattle and 12,000 bobby calves pushed through the facility annually.
“The council feels that an extension to the end of September should allow the applicant to provide a complete package of information for consideration by the EPA works approval team and council,” Cr Goss added.
But that decision has destroyed neighbouring residents who have remained persistent and vocal in their fight against the development.
“We are all absolutely gutted. I feel like we’ve been kicked in the guts yet again,” Melissa McCoy said.
“I don’t know what council or council laws go against determining authorities’ refusal, but Baw Baw Shire have stuck another nail in the coffin.”
Mrs McCoy’s young family lives just five metres from the proposed development’s boundary on the corner of Sand and Thornell Road.
The family purchased the property as their forever home almost two years ago and were never told by their real estate that such a development was possible. Had they been made aware, they wouldn’t have considered settling down there.
“My opinion is that money talks and in this instance we are proven right yet again that if you’ve got large pockets you can do anything … we don’t have large pockets, but we will fight and fight to stop this process and continue to fight against the proposal,” she said.
“Six months more of stress and depression is measurable but it’s a fight we cannot lay down and give up … we cry and worry together as a community for the security of what we have worked hard for, but feel there is no support from the people we have elected to support us.”