Thursday, 19 February 2015

Warrnambool: Beautiful one day...industrialized the next.


                           INDUSTRIALIZED THE NEXT!

This is a story about Warrnambool in Victoria....on the Great Ocean Road. We are struggling to stop heavy industrial development right in our town, about 9 blocks from the CBD! The people who live in Merrivale, the little community directly under the factories, are struggling to be heard.

I spent a bit of time on this map so I hope you can read it.

1:     Proposed Midfield's 12 storey milk factory  
2:     Propose Midfield's 11 storey freezer storage unit  
3:     The Warrnambool Hospital and Cancer Center, servicing 120,000 people
4:     Merrivale Primary School  
5:     Liebig St centre of CBD ( the actual centre is located near the word Warrnambool ) 
6:     Merri Wetland  
7:     Near my house  
8:     Brauer Secondary College 
9:     Lake Pertobe
10:   City Council offices, Lighthouse Theatre, Fun4Kids Venue: Civic Green, Art Gallery and restaurants 
11:   Childcare centre 
12:   Whale nursery

Between 8 and 12 are another 3 childcare centers, 3 secondary colleges, 4 primary schools, 6 medical centers, 3 dentists, 6 churches, sports centers, shopping centers and so on. In short, the entire township of Warrnambool is concentrated into a small area.

Merrivale Primary School is a mere six houses away from the proposed factory and freezer unit. Some students are anaphylactic, asthmatic and have other allergies. Because a number of the Merrivale school parents work at Midfields the  school has not voiced one single concern about the erection of a huge, 12 storey milk factory emitting at least 16 kg of milk dust per day into the air their students will breathe.

Currently, there are three huge milk factories all just a short drive from the Warrnambool CBD; two just west of Warrnambool in Koroit and Dennington and another on the Eastern fringe, in Allansford. Do we really need one more large milk factory and freezer unit right in the heart of Warrnambool? That would make four factories...all emitting more than 16 kg of milk dust into our air every day.

Do you know about the milk dust and what it does to those who live within a twelve block radius and even further afield on windy days....which is almost always? It settles on roofs and cars, stops solar energy production, contaminates water tanks and irritates our lungs.

Many of the people of Merrivale are worried and stressed about the effects this heavy industry will have on their health. Some are already suffering from anxiety and depression. All the other industry in Warrnambool is, so far, light industry. It will change the nature of our town...just a few blocks from the CBD.

Colin McKenna employs many overseas workers in Midfield Meats abattoir. This despite the fact that Warrnanbool has the highest rate of youth unemployment in Victoria. I have been told by a reliable source that many young people who have applied for work at Midfields and have been accepted, are turned away everyday in favour of overseas workers.

McKenna will import milk from Queensland....because there is not enough local milk to supply him....So it will not be sourced locally.

The demand for power is so great the grid is not enough. Even now McKenna runs gas generators to supply peak power to the abattoir.  The generators are heard across Merrivale and on still night can prevent residents from falling asleep. Though gas is better than coal it's still a fossil fuel and is by no means sustainable. How much more electricity will be needed to run the 12 storey milk factory and 11 storey freezer unit?

Merrivale in Warrnambool, is an inappropriate place for such heavy industry, that will be bigger than Fonterra, Dennington. Go to the abattoirs and see for yourself where it will be built. See for yourself how close to town it will be and to the residences, school, kinders, day care centers and the hospital. There will not be just one factory but two huge factories,towering over the community of Merrivale, polluting their air, creating noise pollution and changing the nature of our beautiful, tourist city.

Another group of people own house blocks in Eccles St. The Warrnambool City Council Planning Department has deemed the road too narrow for subdivision though before the owner bought the land, it promised to widen the street, to open the way for house blocks. So the owner was given permission to subdivide the land.

Since then Council has sold land to Colin McKenna to build the two huge industrial buildings and the Eccles St. property owner is either no longer permitted to subdivide or he realizes he won't be able to sell the land as residential. So he's hoping to turn it into more industrial land, just a few blocks from our restaurants, motels and beaches. It's insane.

And by the way...I'm not responding to this as a Green...though I'm sure the Greens who live both here and elsewhere, being a reasonable group of people, will agree with these points. I'm responding as someone who lives here and will also be effected by such inappropriate developments. Both my son and I have asthama and other allergic responses as do probably half the population.

Colin McKenna has land all over SW Victoria. Perhaps he could build his factories away from residential areas....perhaps somewhere near Woolsthorpe or Mortlake, where there are paddocks on which the milk dust can settle and biodegrade....and where there is bore water to access. He could create settling ponds and whatever else is required to treat the waste it will produce.  There are places on the rail line where he could build sidings to use cargo trains. It is possible.

I'm not saying I'm against milk factories or industrialization but the time for deliberately allowing such developments to bring harm to humans, wild life and surrounds and to ruin a whole town and communities for the sake of a few jobs or for anything well and truly in the past....or so it should be.

This is the Dennington milk factory just a couple of kms West from the proposed new Midfields milk factory in Warrnambool.

This is the factory the East side of Warrnambool in Allansford.

And here's the milk factory further West, in Koroit.

And the Warrnambool Council Planning Department want to allow another one, right in the town. All of this for just 30 jobs, that could be 30 jobs 30km north...away from any harm!

Can you help us fight this? Please contact me if you can help in any way.


  1. Milk dust settles on all surfaces Lisa including our lungs! We already have health issues from the asphalt plant & cement dust from the existing industry here in Merrivale , Warrnambool, we do not need any more pollution in our neighborhood.

  2. Yes, that's true and I think I did mention people's lungs but I didn't know that about the asphalt and cement dust!

  3. Great work Lisa, fantastic. Are you sure you haven't got the milk plant and the freezer plant the wrong way round on the map?

  4. Really? Could you check that for me Keith?

  5. Seriously. . You purchased your house in that area with already existing industrial businesses. Your house your choice your choice of community.
    You can choose to send your children elsewhere.. Don't we want more opportunities in Warrnambool not less.

    1. Yes, because people in that area (Merrivale) know ahead of time due to a magical crystal ball what is going to happen within the next few years, We get one when we move in...don't we?.

      I grew up there, It was not "an industrial' area as you think, it was a decent distance away from Midfeild, The problem is Midfield, Which I used to work up btw, For 5 years has decided to ignore Merrivale and just expand it's operations all over the area including placing it's plant directly behind Merrivale primary school.

      Amazing, lets go by Colin Mckenna rules:

      1: Employ foreign workers, pay them MUCH less pr hr
      2: if foreign people complain about pay, threaten them with firing.
      3: Scare off all your experienced paid employees with threats that we can replace them with 'others'
      4: Replace every employee with them, pay them less than I used to get at 16yr...

  6. I'm somebody who used to work for Midfeild.

    A year (or more) ago I reported Midfeild for importing workers for other countries because my family were currently working there and getting bullied (verbally assaulted) from the workers he was buying in.

    Apparently a raid happened, But it has not stopped McKenna from importing workers to fill jobs and paying them less an hour than what I was paid when I started there at 16yrs old.

    It's disgusting, and I'm going to use the old word we used to use for him when we was coming to check 246: "The bloody 'Bulldog' needs to stop gobbling up land in Merrivale in it's entirety and trying to turn the once lovely area into nothing but industrial factories for his shitty factories.

    He seems determined to screw everyone and produce shitty factories and ruin Merrivale as a suburb , Fuck, when I was growing up it was bad enough smelling Midfeild or the slaughterhouse slurry near the beach when the wind was blowing that way.

    It needs to stop right now. If not Merrivale will turn into industrial land with god knows what fumes they produce.

  7. By the way Mr. Anonymous who posted a comment on 3 March, I DO NOT LIVE IN MERRIVALE...though everywhere in Warrnambool is not far from Midfields operations. My house which is on the Eastern edge of the CBD is only 10 blocks from where they want to build the huge milk factory. We're already surrounded by them, so why do we need one right in town?

    I care deeply for the people of Merrivale and I love that area with its beautiful wetland, sand dunes, and proximity to the Merri Coastal reserve.

    Sure jobs are important but not at any cost to the residents or the environment. WE need sustainable clean industry...and maybe it's time to think outside the square.
    1: Maybe we could amalgamate with Moyne Shire...share the love and put the industrial estate away from densely populated areas.
    2: Midfields does not employ huge numbers of locals. We have the highest rate of youth unemployment in Vic and he employs those from overseas. Centerlink have confirmed that nearly all the youth looking for work are prepared to work for Midfields but they cost more, have more rights than overseas workers. it's disguting really.
    3: It will change the very nature of our town and open the way to intense industrialisation...right in the heart of Warrnambool.

    Which part of this do you not understand? Why isn't our council actively seeking out sustainable industries in clean energy, in housing, in services for our unemployed youth? Well?

  8. Thanks for that link, Lisa, a good thoughtful description which has made it easier for me to see your concerns.

    I still have mixed feelings. Firstly, I doubt if it's a state decision other than if they'd overruled local government planning rules, which does not seem to be the case here. If anyone's to blame, surely it's the council, which has to balance economic and employment decisions against their responsibilities for the environment and residents. It's possible they've got it wrong, and there is the question of Midfield/McKenna influence on it.

    But as one poster mentioned, it was an industrial zone long before people put up houses there. It is a question of how much responsibility lies with the residents, knowing of these conditions before they bought or rented.

    When I lived in Sydney, a perennial issue was one of airport noise. But people had bought into the nearby suburbs of Botany, Mascot and Maroubra well after the pattern of airport noise was clear. It was unreasonable then to expect limits.

    I know nothing about milk processing pollution but would have assumed it was no worse than other industries such as the meatworks and the knackery. However, your suggestion of alternative locations makes a lot of sense, just as the saleyards will eventually have to face relocation.

    I'm not at all comfortable with the abuse and misuse of 457 visas. It rather nullifies the employment argument if you're just going to use temporary imported labor. In fact Mortlake might be a good option with some sort of training system for employing some young people. It works at Cobden, albeit there are not a lot of jobs in powdered milk production even if export demand is good.

  9. Thanks for the comment Don. The industrial estate has always been light industry and these new industries are classified as heavy...largely due to the 16-20kg of milk dust escaping the best practice filters, every day. people in Merrivale were told the estate would remain low rise light industrial which has not been a problem for local residents thus far, aside from late night truck and factory noise and the smell on hot nights when people need to open their windows.
    The fact that it's only 6 houses away from the chool mean the chn will be breathing in the milk dust and solar panel and water tank on schools and residences will be effected.

  10. My friend siobhan has diabetes and this would effect her

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