TAMWORTH mayor Col Murray has backed Baiada Poultry’s plans to invest $180 million in two major developments for the area.
Cr Murray said the economic benefits from an $80 million broiler facility at Manilla and $100 million processing plant in Tamworth could be profound.
The in-principle endorsement comes as a group of residents prepare to fight the poultry giant over its plans to build the 70-shed operation at Manilla.
The facility would house up to three million birds and, according to the company’s managing director John Camilleri, be the largest of its type in Australia.
Cr Murray said he accepted there might be some anxiety among residents surrounding the farm about the scale of the development.
However, he said he was confident that sufficiently rigorous protection measures would be in place to minimise any impact on the environment.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact, in my election platforms, that I’ve been keen to take up whatever opportunities are reasonably available for growth,” he said.
“We’re sort of looking at about 600 new jobs and I think any local government area in Australia would jump at that scale of development.
“If you ask, do they come with any challenges? You bet your socks they do. I can understand the concerns of the community out there.
“But I would be hopeful that they would gain some understanding about how the management controls work on these types of developments.
“There’s no way that I would suggest our council support approving any development if there was the potential there for any environmental disasters.”
Manilla paramedic Bob Wales is one resident staunchly opposed to the broiler farm, citing a whole host of possible environmental and social impacts that concern him.
He said the risk of pollutants entering the Namoi River, as well as safety issues regarding increased traffic on the town’s roads, were too great to be ignored.
“My concerns are genuine and I assure you I do not oppose progress or intensive agricultural industry,” he said.
“Baiada will no doubt address these issues at length in their development application.
“Forgive me for appearing cynical and not feeling reassured as Baiada’s corporate citizenship is a matter of public record.”
Cr Murray said that if the development was approved, it would help underpin Tamworth’s growth in the years ahead.
“This is a really, really good story for a regional community to have this sort of opportunity,” he said.
“When you think this development at Manilla could potentially mean up to 50 new families for Manilla, I bet their schools and their churches and their supermarkets and the broader community would be keen to have that sort of opportunity.”