Greater Shepparton City Council taken to VCAT over abattoir

By Jamieson Salter

Four families in the Gillieston community have taken Greater Shepparton City Council to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal over a planned sheep abattoir.

The $30 million facility will be constructed at 630 Lancaster–Mooroopna Rd in Gillieston, on a former dairy farm.

The Meatworks Australia abattoir will employ 120 full-time workers and process up to 18 000 head of sheep each week.

“The matter is currently with VCAT and a decision will be made by the independent tribunal following the VCAT hearing scheduled for July,” the council said in a statement.

The review comes after the planning permit was approved by the council and the Environment Protection Authority approved the works for the abattoir on October 18, 2019.

While the application to review the decision has been lodged with VCAT, the EPA's decision has been suspended until the application is withdrawn, or the review is determined.

Gillieston Action Group member Cassandra Rowe said her main concern was the risk of contracting the highly contagious Q fever.

“It has been quite taxing for families who have been here for years,” Mrs Rowe said.

“We're not saying we're anti-abattoir and they do have a right to build it — but it's just way too close to families.

“We purchased our property in 2018 and weren't advised about the abattoir.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Mrs Rowe found the abattoir was of a "medium" risk to human health.

Meatworks Australia chief executive Adam Elmasri said his organisation sympathised with concerns, but had followed all the appropriate processes and met all guidelines.

“The business is suitable for the zone and particular area, so we have done everything right,” he said.