Abattoir for Guyra will create 200 jobs, Independent candidate Rob Taber says

EMPLOYMENT: Independent candidate Rob Taber says the abattoir for Guyra will create more than 200 jobs.
EMPLOYMENT: Independent candidate Rob Taber says the abattoir for Guyra will create more than 200 jobs.

A proposed abattoir for Guyra will bring more than 200 jobs to New England, businessman and federal Independent candidate Rob Taber promises.

"We're just going to push as hard as we possibly can from here on in," Mr Taber said.

Armidale Regional Council mayor Simon Murray thought the development would be good for the town, but was concerned about the water supply.

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The abattoir would be built on Geoffrey Bell's 190-acre property off Falconer Road, and cost about $80 million to build.

Mr Taber's New England Innovation and Development (NEID) group hope to begin construction within 12 months, and have the facility completed within two years.

The abbatoir, Mr Taber said, would create 200 direct jobs during construction, and an additional 220 full-time jobs once the project is complete.

Unemployment in New England has increased over the past three years, Mr Taber said. "This new investment, even though it's small, will contribute to reducing the unemployment rate."

Negotiations began in 2016, and the project has completed a feasibility study, secured investors, and purchased the location.

Mr Taber originally tried to build the abattoir in Armidale. He spent 18 months looking for a suitable block of land around the city, but nothing worked out - until Mr Bell said he had land available in Guyra.

"The land is probably the most suitable site that I think you'll find in New England," Mr Taber said.

It has good access, so vehicles don't have to come off the highway. There won't be any complaints about visibility; the abattoir would be positioned so that only Mr Bell's house can be seen from the site. The site is at the top of a platform, so the abattoir can use that height for draining water into holding ponds lower down the hill.

Mr Taber said his group never considered using the site of the old abattoir, closed in the mid-1990s.

"We didn't even attempt to go there; we thought a new green field site would be much better. A fresh start means we don't have any pollution problems with that old site that might be there; we don't know. This way, we certainly know that it's a clean site."

NEID have completed their feasibility and road studies. The next step is to start other studies (including the environmental study), while they hope to submit a Development Assessment for the surrounding industrial site within a month. They will then submit a DA to council for the meat-processing facility.

Mr Taber said he was getting plenty of support from Guyra residents. The Chamber of Commerce gave in-principle approval to the abattoir last year. They believed it would create jobs, develop regional infrastructure, create a demand for town retail and commercial services, and increase population.

The abattoir, Mr Taber said, would increase trade for local business during construction, lower livestock transportation costs, shorten journeys, and improve animal welfare.

Armidale Regional Council would receive rates from the business. Mr Taber also envisaged a better economic outcome for local producers, improved margins, and higher quality products. Shorter livestock distances mean fewer truck kilometres and a lower carbon footprint. The abbatoir would use carbon neutral refrigeration systems for chilling and freezing, and irrigation of waste water onto the land.

"The spin-offs into other industries will be immense," Mr Taber said. "Quite a bit of value-adding can be done."

The industrial site will provide opportunities for other businesses, such as small goods or rendering blood and bone from the rendering plant.

Mayor Simon Murray thought the development would be good for the town, but doubted there would be enough water.

"If it goes ahead, it will be a benefit to Guyra," he said. "They've got some issues to address. We're in a water squeeze at the moment; at one of their public meetings, they say they needed a megalitre of treated water per day. There's no way our council could provide that at this stage."

Even when Guyra has plenty of water, Cr Murray said, the treatment plant was at nearly full capacity; it didn't have any real room to provide a megalitre per day.

"They have to work out how they can address this," Cr Murray said. "We don't have the finances to do up that water treatment plant to meet that requirement."

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