Protests over $80m meat plant - 'secretive, foreign staff'
TOOWOOMBA union and advocacy groups have raised concerns about an $80 million meat processing facility planned for Charlton, just west of the city.
FKG Group submitted plans to Toowoomba Regional Council in April this year.
Opponents have listed a lack of public consultation, noise and odour and planning issues as their main concerns.
Oakey-based veterinarian and environmental advocate David Pascoe said the meatworks was a heavy and high impact industry and shouldn't be placed in a medium industry zone.
"The western corridor of Toowoomba is growing straight that way so why you'd put it there defies logic," he said.
"All the developments from Cottswald Hills and Glenvale is spreading to that area, and the odour of the meat processing plant will devalue housing values."
FKG group manager of property development Dallas Hunter defended the project.
He said the proposal had been purposely called a meat processing plant to avoid the stigma attached to the name abattoir.
"It's an industrial facility that is fully enclosed. It has no external cattle yards, no settlement ponds for waste water and our rendering plant is in the basement of the building.
"The technology we're using is the latest technology from Europe which will ensure that there are no external impacts.
"We're building this plant in the middle of our industrial estate and the last thing we want is a smelly plant in the middle of our industrial estate because we won't be able to sell the land.
"It's just as important for us and our neighbours that we have a low impact or nil impact plant and that's what we're designing."
Should the meat processing facility in Charlton be approved by council?
This poll ended on 21 October 2015.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Pascoe said he was also concerned about animal cruelty issues.
"From the plans it looks like cattle will be stressed and the meat will be tough as the cattle usually have to stand for a while so they relax before they're killed," he said.
Mr Pascoe said the facility should be built somewhere further out in a more rural area where the animals can be unloaded and de-stressed, such as in the Cecil Plains area.
Mr Pascoe said most of the neighbours had no idea about the proposal.
"The signs went up on the first of September and there wasn't a mail-out to residents who live close by to notify them that objections could be submitted," he said.
A LINK TO THE SOMEWHAT SECRETIVE TRC FOUND AT LAST! LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK Chrissie Bach Have been working on... http://t.co/6QF0DokUiP— Dr David Pascoe (@DrDPascoe) September 20, 2015
Queensland Council of Unions Toowoomba president Chris McGaw said he was concerned about a lack of information and public consultation regarding the project.
Mr McGaw is worried Chinese workers will be flown in to work at the new facility as part of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement which was signed on June 17.
Mr McGaw said he was concerned a Mass Accommodation plan to house 500 workers next to Wellcamp Airport was somehow linked to the meat processing facility and called for more information about the plan to be released.
"The biggest concern for us is whether the new plant is going to create local jobs," Mr McGaw said.
"If it's staffed by fly-in fly-out workers that won't help the Toowoomba economy as they won't rent houses in Toowoomba or shop in local businesses."
Mr McGaw said he believed the new plant was being rushed through council with very little consultation and was "very cranky" about what he perceived to be "secrecy".
Mr Hunter said media organisations like The Chronicle had publicised the proposal when it was first announced.
"We haven't hidden it and we've been through normal process of public consultation as required," he said.
Mr Hunter said he was surprised by comments linking the project to Chinese workers.
"We're locating it on the edge of Toowoomba because of the local labour advantage," he said.
"I have not talked to Chinese about this project ever- it's ludicrous and ridiculous - everybody involved in this plant is Australian owned," he said.
A public notification stage started on September 1 and will end tomorrow.
Submissions will be accepted until the close of business tomorrow.