A poultry farmer wants to use 40 per cent of Goulburn’s daily water consumption to process 192,000 chooks a day in an $83 million planning application awaiting NSW Government approval.
The water must be fresh out of the tap. Recycled water is unsuitable. And with 192,000 birds a day to be processed at full capacity and 14 litres of water needed to process each bird, the expected daily water draw from the mains system will be 2.688 megalitres – more than 40 per cent of the entire city’s minimal daily use.
Goulburn faced a dire water security outlook until 2011 when a $50 million, 81-kilometre pipeline was constructed to Bowral to secure supply.
Known as the Highland Source, the pipeline has a capacity of 5 megalitres a day; Goulburn’s water usage averages about 6.5 megalitres a day.
Goulburn’s Mayor Bob Kirk says the council will have to expand its infrastructure to ensure water security is maintained, and the proponent will have to make a contribution to this cost. Discharged water from the processing will also need to be treated, another significant cost.
Region Media has previously reported on Eddie Wehbe, a former Sydney builder who first came to Goulburn as a hobby farmer, and invested $6.5 million in six large climate-controlled sheds for growing broiler chickens at Parkesbourne south of Goulburn.
Last year the NSW Government pledged $7 million to establish a new industrial area on Goulburn’s northern fringe where Mr Wehbe’s company, Woodlands Ridge Poultry, proposed a new abattoir that will process 12,000 poultry birds per hour with 500,000 broilers a week. When fully operational, two shifts a day will process one million broilers a week. As other producers arrive it’s hoped the chicken meat industry – worth $5 billion in Australia annually – will relocate from Sydney’s outer west to Goulburn.
A key part of the Woodlands Ridge project is a high-tech, $50 million cold storage distribution centre which will not only support the poultry processing facility but will also be available to third-party operations. An hour’s drive from the Canberra Airport, and 1 hour 45 minutes to the future Western Sydney Airport, the processing and storage will enable producers to meet existing and future demand for poultry products regionally and internationally.
Operating 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, the mixed-use development will include poultry processing plant for chickens, turkey, geese and quail from broiler farms for slaughter, processing and packaging; a wastewater treatment plant; a childcare centre for 68 children; water treatment plant and 341 car park spaces.
If approved, the development will be built in two stages, each stage taking six months to complete. The project will create 264 full-time jobs, other associated industries and 201 indirect jobs.
The developer’s consultants say the project will generate $30 million in additional economic activity annually. Independently operated, the childcare services will be offered to the broader community.
A large shed will provide cover from the sun and cooling fans during unforeseen plant stoppages for live birds arriving in crates on trucks.
One hundred and fifty heavy vehicle trips, mostly B-double trucks, are expected to service the plant each day. Processing will generate considerable waste product. Broiler waste will be piped to a by-product facility where the waste will be processed into various products. Waste streams will include feather, carcass and blood processing. The material is generally cooked, dried and collected for fertilisers and animal food.
During consultation with the community, concerns were raised about traffic, odour, noise, flooding, waste and operation hours.