BAIADA Poultry’s controversial plans to build Australia’s largest chicken meat farm at Manilla could spark a wave of investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the region.
The company’s managing director John Camilleri told The Leader yesterday that development applications for the $80 million facility would be lodged “imminently”.
The 70-shed operation, if approved, will spread across five farms and house up to three million birds and would be one of the largest of its kind in the world.
But Mr Camilleri said the development took on even greater importance as its approval could pave the way for a new $100 million processing plant in Tamworth.
“It will certainly be extremely significant because when it’s up and running it gives us sufficient scale to justify the capital expenditure on the new processing plant we’ve got earmarked in Tamworth near the airport,” he said.
“We don’t have enough farming capacity currently to justify spending over $100 million on a new processing plant, but this will take us a long way, if not there.”
Despite the Manilla project’s expected economic benefits, the proposed broiler farms have been met with fierce opposition from a group of concerned neighbours.
The residents, who have erected a “Bugger Off Baiada” sign, have signalled their intention to fight the development to the end.
However, Mr Camilleri moved yesterday to assure the objectors that it would meet every one of its obligations under the law.
“That is the only way we operate our business nowadays – and we’ve done that for a lot of years,” he said.
“We are not interested in cutting corners and we don’t cut corners. We will comply with all of the relevant legislation.”
Mr Camilleri said the combined developments had the potential to create hundreds of jobs and provide an enormous boost to the local economy.
He said Tamworth Regional Council’s professional and positive approach to negotiations had been a large factor in the company’s willingness to invest
“Particularly in recent times, we think the Tamworth council has been very, very proactive and encouraging in terms of the development of business,” Mr camilleri said. “That has not always been the case.
“Also, we believe some of the government authorities are taking a much more reasonable position nowadays, whereas in the past we haven’t seen it that way, which is also encouraging.
“So, for a number of reasons, we’re earmarking Tamworth as a place where we may start spending money again, whereas the last five or six years we’ve stopped.”
The Manilla development’s substantial capital investment value means it will have to go before the Joint Regional Planning Panel, not council, for approval.