Grape growers sour on Swan Valley plan

Grape Growers Association of WA president Darryl Trease. Picture: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au   d444921
Grape growers sour on Swan Valley plan
Grape Growers Association of WA president Darryl Trease. Picture: Matt Jelonek        www.communitypix.com.au d444921

THE draft Swan Valley Development Plan does little to strengthen the future of table grape growing, according to the Grape Growers Association of WA.

Association president Darryl Trease said food, beverage and tourism formed the new vision for the Swan Valley in the development plan while the future of grape growers had been ignored.

The plan recognises some table grape businesses would likely leave the industry, while others “may evolve to service the growing food movement and tourism sectors”.

“It’s like we’ve been written out of the legislation overnight; some members feel a bit lost,” Mr Trease said.

“We feel a bit used.

“They are writing off viticulture.”

Mr Trease said vineyards were used as a drawcard to the grape-growing region but had depleted significantly over the years.

“The recommendation in the development plan means we get zip and it doesn’t address the major issues,” he said.

Swan Valley’s grape growing industry has long called for improvements to the water allocation system, tax exemptions and incentives to grow vineyards.

Subdivisions on agricultural land are also restricted to a minimum size of 4ha in the plan, which Mr Trease said was too big to entice more entrants into the tourism industry.

Mr Trease said he supported many aspects of the plan, including further protection of rural character, generating more tourism and making Herne Hill the ‘town centre’ of the Swan Valley.

More growers like Mr Trease are now looking to plant new varieties of grapes to produce greater yields and stay competitive.

City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley said staff were still holding a comprehensive internal review of the plan before it formed a submission with the council.

“At this point in time, it is premature to comment on what will be the City’s position on the contents of the plan, nor is the City in a position to understand what might be the views of other stakeholders,” he said.

The draft plan can be viewed at www.planning.wa.|gov.au/publications/8045.|asp.

Submissions are due by December 15.