The Environment Protection Authority has approved a new abattoir in Gillieston, between Mooroopna and Kyabram.
The $30 million facility, to be developed by Meatworks Australia on a former dairy farm site, would employ 120 full-time workers and process up to 18000 head of sheep each week.
Getting the approval from Greater Shepparton City Council is now the last remaining hurdle for the project.
Meatworks chief executive Adam Elmasri said he was confident they would be granted the permit because the company had successfully complied with all the requirements.
“Our facility will set the new benchmark for abattoirs in Victoria,” he said.
“This approval is very good news for us.”
If all approvals go through it could take 12 months before work starts on the site, as detailed design work will have to be completed.
The EPA requirements include the establishment of a community liaison committee, a community complaints response plan, a noise management plan — which includes detailed ongoing routine noise monitoring to check compliance — as well as procedures for compliance review and an odour management and monitoring program.
The approval took the Gillieston Action Group, which is advocating for the abattoir not to go ahead, by surprise.
Residents are worried about the size of the abattoir, its potential impact on the value of their properties, its location in an agricultural zone and potential issues of dust, noise, odour, drainage, traffic management and biosecurity.
Greater Shepparton City Council is expected to consider the planning proposal next month.