WARRNAMBOOL saleyards will be replaced by a regional facility if bidder Regional Infrastructure gets the go-ahead for the project.
“It would have to be a genuine regional facility, not just a replacement for Warrnambool,” Regional Infrastructure managing director Garry Edwards said.
The company proposes a cattle-only centre that would operate at least two days a week, sited to draw additional stock from some areas that now sell through Hamilton and Camperdown.
Mr Edwards said a new facility would most likely be sited between 20 and 40 kilometres from Warrnambool.
While Warrnambool City Council specified a distance of no more than 20 kilometres from the city in its call for expressions of interest, Mr Edwards said there were few suitable sites within that radius.
He said the company’s preferred options, considering transport links, environmental aspects and proximity to stock supply areas, were to the north or north-east of the city.
“We’ve looked at a number of sites and 20 to 40 kilometres is realistic,” Mr Edwards said.
“The first step is to be named as the preferred proponent by Warrnambool council. We would expect a decision early in the new year.
“If we are named as the preferred proponent we will need to meet with the agents to see what is acceptable to them.
“We will also have to think about services — it’s natural that services would still be drawn from Warrnambool.”
Regional Infrastructure operates the Ballarat saleyards and last week secured a site for a replacement facility at the intersection of the Western and Sunraysia highways, to the west of the city.
If approved, construction of the $21 million facility is targeted to start in 2014.
Regional Infrastructure is a subsidiary of Palisade Investment Partners, a superannuation equity investor, and also operates saleyards at Wodonga, Tamworth, Carcoar, Inverell and Rockhampton.
“We’re the largest livestock selling centre operator in Australia by quite a margin,” Mr Edwards said.
“In 2011/12 we put through 750,000 cattle and 2.4 million sheep and lambs across our centres.”
It is now nearly three years since Warrnambool City Council voted to shut the Caramut Road saleyards and 10 months since expressions of interest closed from private operators interested in building and operating a new facility.
Council has repeatedly declined to disclose details of progress, saying the information is commercial in confidence.
Its infrastructure director, Peter Robertson, said yesterday that a statement would be made after he and his team meet early in the new year.