Wine in­dus­try says jump in wa­ter fees puts sec­tor at risk

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

The Mar­garet River wine in­dus­try is at risk of a steep jump in wa­ter li­cens­ing fees that it is feared could crip­ple some smaller vine­yards.

Pro­posed State Govern­ment leg­is­la­tion would in­tro­duce manda­tory re­li­cens­ing fees for ex­ist­ing dams, and clas­si­fi­ca­tion of the re­gion’s wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions as “high risk” means the fees could be at the sharp end of the spec­trum.

In ad­di­tion, vine­yards must pay for the dam li­cences — many in­tro­duced more than a decade ago — which were pre­vi­ously free for ap­pli­cants.

Vasse MLA Libby Met­tam will host a fo­rum for the re­gion’s wa­ter users with shadow wa­ter min­is­ter David Honey in Bus­sel­ton on Mon­day be­fore tak­ing the mat­ter fur­ther.

“The WA La­bor Govern­ment is propos­ing to im­pose wa­ter li­cence-re­newal fees of up to $6668 for each dam in a reg­u­lated catch­ment, ”she said.

“New sub­stan­tial fees will also ap­ply to other wa­ter li­cences, bed and bank per­mits and land-clear- ing per­mits. South West Capes Wa­ter Users Group chair­man and lo­cal viti­cul­tur­ist Bruce Pearse said the pro­posal was “un­fair”.

“When the State Govern­ment pro­claimed all the sur­face wa­ter catch­ments in WA around 11 years ago, all the dams in that catch­ment that could be li­censed were,” he said.

“Now, guess what — we’re 10 years down the track and they want to bring this change .”

The fee would hit ev­ery win­ery, in­clud­ing those which have li­censed dams only as an emer­gen- cy back-up. Some dams were not deemed to be di­rectly con­nected to sur­face wa­ter­ways, and were there­fore ex­empt from the pro­posal.

How­ever, Mr Pearse said there was in­equity in the sys­tem.

“If you were a wa­ter user in the Ord River sys­tem, you’d be us­ing 2000 times the wa­ter and pay­ing less,” he said.

Mar­garet River Wine As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Barry House urged vint­ners to at­tend Mon­day’s fo­rum

At­ten­dees should meet at St Mary’s Church hall in Bus­sel­ton at 10.45am.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.