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The Swan Valley review will consider the right to farm in the region and the limits to subdivision in the area. Picture: ANITA McINNES

Grape growers say it’s decision time

SWAN Valley planning needs to retain and support viticulture or to ditch the idea completely and allow natural planning processes to take place, according to Grape Growers Association of WA president Darryl Trease.

Mr Trease who has just been re-elected as president of the association for the 11th consecutive year said it was too expensive to buy more land in the Swan Valley just to grow grapes.

But growers needed more land to benefit from economies of scale.

The City of Swan councillor who is running in the local government elections next month said if the Swan Valley wanted to keep viticulture as a focus the minimum lot size needed to be set at 2ha.

This week Planning Minister and West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti announced former minister John Kobelke would conduct a review of the Swan Valley planning framework, which incorporated the Swan Valley Protection Bill and associated development plan.

Ms Saffioti said residents and landowners in the Swan Valley with an opportunity to contribute to the future development of the area.

She said views would be sought on the role and responsibility of a statutory board for the Swan Valley, establishing a right to farm in the region, possible new tourism initiatives and the limits to subdivision in the area.

In May after WA Labor had won the state election Ms Saffioti asked the Department of Planning to review the Swan Valley Protection Bill and associated draft development plan, which lapsed at the end of the last Parliament.

Swan Valley & Regional Winemakers Association president John Griffiths said wine makers were keen to work with the government on protecting, preserving and promoting viticulture in the Swan Valley.

Mr Griffiths said one of the pleasing things about the new review was the Minister was also considering tourism issues alongside the planning issues, which he said was essential.

“It also represents a chance to discuss how community consultation in the future development process can be included in any new regulations, as this wasn’t incorporated in the previous draft,’’ he said.

Ms Saffioti said Mr Kobelke understood the need for genuine community engagement to develop a plan for the Swan Valley.

“I have asked Mr Kobelke to examine the provisions in the draft Swan Valley Development Plan relating to subdivision, agriculture and tourism,’’ she said.

“I am also keen to ensure a strong advocate for the Swan Valley through a statutory board or committee.

“This review and consultation process will ensure that the people who call the Swan Valley home have a real say about the future of this highly valued region.”

In March during the election campaign Ms Saffioti said Labor would also work with the Water Corporation to ensure the Swan Valley’s agricultural land was given sufficient priority in relation to water allocations.

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. The best part of her job was meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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