THE new Katanning saleyards project in Western Australia’s Great Southern region is a prime example of a well-planned community project, backed by inter-government support, delivering local economic benefits to country regions, according to key National MPs.
Shadow Federal Agriculture Minister John Cobb visited the new Katanning sheep yards construction site last week as a guest of fellow National Tony Crook, Member for O’Connor.
The saleyards will cost an estimated $25 million: $17m will come from the State government’s Royalties for Regions program; $7m from the Commonwealth’s Regional Development Australia (RDA) fund, and the Shire of Katanning will pitch in another $1m to $2m.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held in July last year to launch the construction phase. Building is scheduled for completion by September 30, 2013.
About 55,000 cubic metres (m3) of topsoil was removed from the 20-hectare site to make way for the huge concourse that will see 42,000 square metres (m2) of the facility situated undercover.
A massive cement pouring project commenced three weeks ago. The pouring phase is expected to see about two to three loads poured per day; each equivalent to a large four bedroom home. In total, each pour will contain 54m3 of cement, sourced and mixed locally, along with other building products. Other local initiatives include using earthmoving crews from Katanning and the neighbouring shires of Broomehill, Tambellup, Wagin and Woodanilling.
The final result will see 5500m3 of concrete laid at the site and house 275 kilometres of steel – enough steel to stretch from Perth to Katanning, if laid end to end.
Mr Cobb was impressed with how the project was maximising economic benefits by sourcing local community products and services first, including using about 40 Shire staff.
“I really like the way they are making every cent count and the way the council are doing the work themselves,” he said.
“When you think that the roof is going to collect 80,000 litres of water from just one millimetre of rainfall - that’s a big roof. Harvesting (that) rain means they will have a lot of fresh water they can put to good use.
“And given that it runs downhill from where the sale yards are located into town, it’s hard to think they won’t make good use of that water in future which is another great benefit.”
Shire of Katanning corporate services director Andrew Holden said using local labour, services and products, including fabricating their own gates and 5500 panels, was a deliberate strategy to channel economic benefits into the local community.
Mr Holden said they were aiming to build the best facility for the best price while using Shire staff’s expertise to bring the entire plan together successfully.
The new facility will be able to hold 32,000 sheep under its broad roof. The sheep will be sourced mostly from the Great Southern region, but also as far south as Esperance and north to the Central Wheatbelt, making it the largest facility of its kind south of Perth.
The new saleyards will replace the current facility in Katanning which handles about 1.2 million head each year and holds weekly sales, but was hit by environmental issues and increasing occupational health and safety concerns.
A study was conducted which identified the best option to locate the facility and also improve animal welfare outcomes.
Shire of Katanning project supervisor Ernie Menghini said they were unsure exactly how many head per year the new facility would handle, but current numbers could be exceeded, depending on seasonal factors and market conditions.
He said having a modern facility that was cleaner and more efficient environmentally would encourage greater use.
Sheep will be sold to a range of buyers including other sheep graziers, for the live export market, to eastern States buyers and for processing at various meatworks, including the large Western Australian Meat Marketing Co-Operative facility in Katanning.
Shire of Katanning Counsellor David Rees said overall the project was on schedule to meet its deadline next year.
Despite experiencing some delays with planning approvals and roofing, it was ahead of schedule on the superstructure.
Mr Rees said given the amount of funding across the various forms of government, he was pleased that Mr Cobb and Mr Crook visited last week to see how the project was unfolding.
Mr Crook said the Shire of Katanning deserved full credit for consulting widely while planning and implementing a project with a strong community focus, deliberately designed to retain and share economic benefits at grass roots level.
He said the project had also helped create local employment and utilise local expertise.
“What I like the most about the new Katanning saleyards is that the whole project has a really strong community feeling and will share the benefits locally,” he said.
“It’s a huge coup for Katanning to have a first-class facility like this with modern environmental management tools incorporated, making it the biggest sheep sales hub in the Great Southern.
“I applaud the State government for its Royalties for Regions money, the Commonwealth with RDA funding and the Shire of Katanning.
“This is a prime example of how governments should be partnering on projects and building infrastructure that brings great benefits to rural communities.”