The official ribbon cutting at the opening of Stage One of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange.
The official ribbon cutting at the opening of Stage One of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange. Marc Stapelberg

'Magnificent' $7 million project gets green light

THE final upgrade of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange is set to go ahead after the $7 million project was unanimously approved by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel yesterday.

The Stage Two upgrade features several improvements to bring the regional facility into the 21st century, including new holding yards, delivery and loading areas, a weighing area and dip pens, transit yards, formalised car park, refurbished amenities, stormwater tank and a wastewater detention dam.

"It will make it one of the best facilities in Australia featuring all the latest technology and design,” Richmond Valley Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said.

"The keys to it are improved animal welfare through a soft floor and a roof, and improved health and safety through better pen design, semi-automated drafts.”

The other benefit is the environmental improvements thanks to a new 26000sqm roof that will help the entire facility to operate on recycled water.

Mr Macdonald said the Stage Two works would cement the saleyards as one of the best facilities in Australia.

Ultimately the council hopes to increase traffic from its current 100,000 per head of cattle a year, up to 120,000 per head a year.

"We're aiming it to be the premier selling centre in Northern NSW,” Mr Macdonald said.

Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow hailed yesterday's vote as the final stepping stone toward bringing the long awaited project to completion.

He described the planned improvements as "magnificent” and of "great benefit” to animal welfare.

The $7 million has been fully funded by the State Government, after the Stage One, also worth $7 million, was jointly funded by the council and the Federal Government ($3.5 million each).

"The government industry realise what the beef industry is to the Northern Rivers, it's a major industry and it's a regional facility,” Cr Mustow said.

"Not only will Richmond Valley benefit but all the other neighbouring council areas and the tablelands as well.”

In great news for local business, a Lismore company called AGS Commercial have won the tender to roll out Stage Two and will be using local subcontractors.

"We're hoping that work will get underway in a couple of months,” Cr Mustow said.

"The tender has gone through, so as soon as we get the paperwork back from the panel we will be ready to crank it up.”

The work weather permitting, will take about six months to complete, and is expected to be ready for cattle by early 2019.