Australian development encroaching on vineyards

Urban development is threatening prime arable land all over the world, and Australia is no exception.  For example, on the south coast of Australia, roughly 40 minutes from Adelaide, you will find the small community of McLaren Vale.  This region has long been thought to have spectacular potential for wine making.  Unfortunately, however, it has come under threat of development like so many other agricultural lands.

This world-renowned wine-growing region has witnessed more than 200 people travelling in cars and tractors in a long convoy to protest the local council’s plans to build 1,000 homes and a strip mall in the neighborhood of Seaford Heights.  The area is currently unplanted and was zoned for development more than 20 years ago.  Also, the adjacent area is a densely populated neighborhood, making it more difficult, both politically and physically, to convert the region into productive agricultural land.

The McLaren Vale Grape Wine Tourism association chairman, Dudley Brown, frowns on the proposal saying it is “a dirty great strip mall on some of the best vineyard land, and the tourist gateway from Adelaide into the region.”  He has attracted wine luminary Jancis Robinson MW to his cause, and their efforts may yet sway the local council to put down the proposal.

A second area of prime vineyard land, just outside the town of Penola, is also being threatened with urban sprawl.  A bypass road has long been considered to divert trucks around Penola.  Unfortunately, the proposed road is to be built through existing vineyards that are currently owned by several different producers.

Protesters believe that the bypass road would, among other things, do irrevocable damage to the superb terra rossa vineyards.  The development plans were challenged and upheld in the High Court by Seppelts (a division of brew giant Fostor’s) and Parker Coonawarra Estates.  However the local council has again reopened talks about plans that are threatening this wine growing region.



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