Despite strong objections from residents, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council has agreed to a three-month trial, with strict conditions, of fish rendering at Cootamundra Abattoir.
Residents in the small farm area near the abattoir, on Stockinbingal Road just north of the township, have complained about the strong odours created as the fish is pressure-cooked and processed into a valuable fish-meal product for livestock.
The abattoir owners, Nowra-based Manildra group, started in July rendering mackerel caught by fishing vessels off Moruya on the south coast and brought in daily in by truck.
The council went close to shutting the operation down at its October meeting, but Manildra gained a reprieve after saying it had been working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and giving assurances that it would work to get on top of the odour issues.
At its meeting on Tuesday, the council approved a development application for a three-month trial, with 17 conditions Manildra must meet or incur fines and/or withdrawal of consent.
In the open forum before the meeting, resident Konrad Streher said the unpleasant odour was especially bad on the afternoon of November 21 when he put on his air conditioning and almost immediately the interior of the house was filled with the stench from the plant.
"It smelt like a can of cat food had exploded in the microwave," he said.
Dean Thompson, a resident of Rathmells Lane, said Manildra had promised not to run the plant on a Saturday when there was a wedding at his property with a reception at the Racecourse.
"At 10pm 100 people said 'what the hell is that?'."
Councillor Bowden opposed the trial, saying there was nothing council could do to stop the odours and it was very risky to continue with the hot months of summer coming up, while Cr Sheahan said there had been ongoing problems with odour and the trial was putting the community at great risk for very little return.
Cr Kelly asked what would happen to staff, and urged council to recognise the company had spent a lot of money improving the plant's performance.
"I think we should approve it but if there is any problems we throw the book at them and fine them as much as we possibly can."
The motion was passed 7/2, with Crs Bowden and Sheahan opposing.