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WAPC overrides council to approve stockfeed mill

Emma Alsop, June 17, 2022

An artist’s impression of the stock feedgrain mill proposed for Bullsbrook, WA. Image: Urbis

THE WESTERN Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) has voted to approve a $24.7 million Bullsbrook stockfeed mill, despite the City of Swan council last year knocking back the project.

NewCo Mills is behind the project which would supply product to the monogastric feed market and shore up supply to agriculture and horse stock feed manufacturer, Thompson & Redwood (T&R), and pork producer, Westpork.

The new mill has an anticipated production of approximately 215,000 tonnes of feed per annum and will feature four grain silos, a feed mill and packaging sheds, an administration building and associated utility infrastructure.

It would source grains from suppliers north of Perth and other grains, pulses and oilseeds from growers’ south-west of Perth.

In a report prepared by Urbis for NewCo Mills, the applicant argued the facility would fill the gap left by the impending closure of Ingham’s Wanneroo Mill in Perth’s northern suburbs, and T&R’s restriction in production due to urban encroachment.

It also said the mill would add $17.4M net value to the WA economy per year as well as requiring 43 permanent employees.

Urgent need for new mill

Currently Westpork is reliant on Wanneroo for feed and will be without a WA feed option as soon as next month.

T&R’s production issues, alongside added demand from Weston Milling’s withdrawal from the bagged feed market, has meant the company has started contracting feed production from eastern states and has lost portions of its export markets.

T&R managing director Stephen Lamond said in a statement that the mill development is urgently needed to fill the growing demand from the intensive livestock industry in WA.

“T&R has been in the process of trying to build a new facility since 2017,” Mr Lamond said.

“Our current mill is old and has been at full capacity since 2014-15.

“We have urban encroachment on our boundary and will ultimately be unviable at our current site.

“This new mill will give certainty to our business’s future as well as current and new employees and the adjoining service centres.

“It will also give capacity and supply to the growing livestock industries to the north of Perth.”

Council rejected plans

The City of Swan council voted against the proposal in 2021, citing issues with the permitted land use of the 61-hectare site which is currently zoned General Rural.

A total of 16 submissions were received against the mill, with residents fearing the development would impact their amenity, was not in keeping with the surrounding area, and would only result in minimal economic benefits.

Mr Lamond argued that the site for the mill was ideal and, despite the zoning issues, fit the general character of the area.

“The site is perfect terms of biosecurity risks and transport links.

“[The mill] is absolutely necessary; it has to be built as soon as possible and there is no other way around it.”

In closing the meeting, WAPC chairman David Caddy said the commission was confident they had made the right decision in approving the mill.

“All submissions received during the advertising of this proposal were given due regard in the assessment of the proposal,” Mr Caddy said.

“Notwithstanding current supply chain issues as far as materials and labor are concerned, the project is ready for construction to commence delivering immediate and long-term benefits for Western Australia.”

The WAPC approved the development under Part 17 of the Planning & Development Act, which granted the commission temporary decision-making powers to determine proposals that can generate investment WA to assist with economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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