A PROPOSED milk processing plant at Cohuna passed another key milestone this week with the submission of a planning application to Gannawarra Shire Council.
No Bull Milk Processing Pty Ltd is progressing its plans to gain approvals and attract an investor to build a $130 million plant within Cohuna's Keely Industrial Estate.
The facility, which can only be built following council and Environment Protection Authority approval, will be capable of processing 300 million litres of milk annually, with 70 jobs to be created during the construction phase and up to 60 positions when the plant is at peak production
"This project should underpin the viability of the dairy industry in this region," No Bull Milk Processing director, John Mawson said.
"Whilst the applications are being assessed, we are continuing discussions with a number of investors from Australia and overseas."
Council has worked with Mr Mawson and his team developing the project during the past 18 months to ensure it can satisfy government planning requirements, with consultation between all parties and numerous specialist industry engineers.
"This is one of the most important projects council has worked on in the past 10 years," council's economic development manager, Roger Griffiths said.
"It is extremely important in terms of supporting dairy industry suppliers, providing confidence for our dairy farmers and giving them the opportunity to sell their milk to a very efficient local processor at a very competitive price."
Those involved with the project recognise the need for the new local plant to offer farmers strong prices and a secure return on their significant investments in land, stock, water and equipment.
The No Bull proposal received a boost earlier this year, with the Federal Government allocating a $634,000 grant towards the planning, environmental and commercial costs of the development.
Other works will need to occur to ensure the site will be ready for operation, including a planned upgrade of Keely Road to enable milk tankers to access the site, with council keen to help facilitate this with assistance from the State Government.
"We are not sure if the plant will be up and running by the start of the next season, but we expect it will be open by 2020," Mr Mawson said.
"I hope milk producers will keep their options open so they are able to consider supporting a local milk processor when the time comes."