A THREE-YEAR search to find a new site for Warrnambool’s regional saleyards within 20 kilometres of the city failed and has been restarted with the zone distance being doubled.
Warrnambool City Council has called for a fresh round of expressions of interest for a new livestock exchange to be located within 40 kilometres of the city’s municipal boundary to replace the ageing saleyards on Caramut Road.
This would effectively allow a site as far as Mortlake, Terang, Peterborough, Hawkesdale and Yambuk.
City council chief executive Bruce Anson said the original call for ownership and operation of new yards revealed difficulty in finding a suitable replacement within 20km.
“That is why a decision has been made to broaden the area within which the new saleyards could be situated,” Mr Anson said.
“Given the change in criteria the council felt it was appropriate to return to the marketplace.
“We still believe in the value of having saleyards in the Warrnambool region and a key to their success is finding the right location.”
However, stock agents criticised the decision saying it ignored recommendations of a special reference group established by the council about two years ago to guide the process.
“It’s a smokescreen by the council, which just wants to close the saleyards in favour of a private operation elsewhere,” said Dan Carey, stock agents’ delegate on the council’s enterprise board
“We say the reference group should have been consulted before changing the distance to 40 kilometres.”
Mr Anson said a modern design would consider a buffer zone, road access, animal welfare and containment and treatment of waste.
It is understood there were several inquiries, but only one detailed submission lodged after the first expressions of interest process started.
It was considered to be unsuitable, but details were not revealed because of commercial confidentiality.
The Caramut Road facility was built by the council in the 1970s on what was then a paddock on the western outskirts.
However, rapidly expanding housing zones are now edging closer to the site.
The council made a controversial decision three years ago to seek a new location and a new operator after a private operator made an approach for suggested sites at Garvoc and Cudgee.
That sparked protests from farmers and stock agents and a packed public meeting.
Mr Carey said the saleyards still returned a profit and improvements were continuing.