Negotiations over the Boyanup Saleyards lease have stalled again, with State water authorities yet to approve proposed site upgrades more than two months after a controversial new agreement was to be signed. The Shire of Capel Council endorsed a new 10-year lease for the WA Livestock Salesmen’s Association in January, on the condition WALSA submit capital upgrade and management plans for the ageing cattle saleyard. The execution of the lease was contingent on the upgrades, some of which would improve animal welfare conditions, being agreed to by both parties and approved by relevant Government departments. But those approvals have caused another setback, with proposed upgrades to effluent management yet to be signed off by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. That’s according to Shire chief executive Gordon MacMile, who was quizzed on the delay by WAFarmers Vasse Zone chair Mike Norton at the September 28 Capel council meeting. “WALSA have provided the Shire with all but one draft operational management plan relating to water and effluent management,” Mr MacMile said. “They’re still working with DWER, particularly in relation to upgraded effluent disposal, flooring, and the cleaning management of run-off water from the proposed flooring.” Mr MacMile said all draft management plans received by the Shire had been referred to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, which regulates animal welfare compliance at WA saleyards. “In terms of the capital upgrade plans, WALSA has very recently provided the Shire with draft concept master plans, and they’ve also engaged a planning consultant to work with PTA (Public Transport Authority) on what development upgrades can occur in the rail corridor,” he said. “So no agreements have been executed yet, and they will as soon as the conditions that have been set by council have been satisfied.” In May, Mr Norton raised concerns after Mr McMile said the upgrade plans would be included as “confidential attachments” to the lease agreement. When Mr Norton raised the question again at last month’s meeting, Shire president Doug Kitchen said the documents would be made public. “The Shire and WALSA have agreed to provide a comprehensive overview of the planned upgrades as soon as negotiations are complete,” Mr Kitchen said. “Any upgrade plan for any portion of the site and requiring development approval from the Shire will be publicly advertised for comment and submissions.” Mr Norton welcomed the news, saying the livestock industry and animal welfare groups had “a very keen interest” in the “structural and management defects which exist at the Boyanup Saleyards”. “I think it’s to the benefit of all parties that it be made public,” he said. “If it’s hidden behind a contract, the rumour mill will run rife.” The Council initially set a June 30 deadline to sign the lease — the same date WALSA’s current lease was due to expire. But as negotiations with DWER and DPIRD dragged on, the deadline was missed and the lease placed in a holdover period until September 1. That deadline was also missed, with the holdover period then extended indefinitely until the new lease is signed. WALSA, a joint venture between Elders and Nutrien Livestock, owns the infrastructure at Boyanup Saleyards and has leased the site from the Shire for decades. The South West’s only cattle saleyard, Boyanup has come under increasing fire over the past year, with WAFarmers labelling it an “archaic” facility that “fails to meet basic animal welfare needs”. Others including local cattle veterinarian Don Finlay have accused WALSA of doing nothing to address animal welfare concerns, including a lack of shade, at the site. Capel Council’s endorsement of the new lease included the condition that a shade sale or solid roofing be erected over all cattle pens as part of the upgrades. “We are working with WALSA to ensure that the shade is provided in time for this summer,” Mr MacMile said. “Our intention is to be able to assess and provide approval for shade at the saleyards as quick as we possibly can.” Mr MacMile said WALSA had submitted a draft animal welfare plan to the Shire, which had been referred to DPIRD, covering concerns including pen stocking numbers, availability of water and “a range of other matters”.