Hawke’s Bay vines under threat
A Water Conservation Order (WCO) application filed by five applicants poses a serious threat to much of Hawke’s Bay’s vineyards, as well as other horticultural activities.
If the application is successful as it was originally proposed, much of the vineyard area in Hawke’s Bay will have their access to irrigation cut-off during the critical growing season. It has been estimated that vines on the Gimblett Gravels subregion could have their water supply shut off for 28 to 80 days during the growing season. Without water for irrigation and frost protection, much of the existing vineyard area will no longer be viable, according to Emma Taylor, nursery viticulturist at Villa Maria‘s Hawke’s Bay-based grapevine nursery, Vineyard Plants.
The first part of the hearing closed on 6th December, and it seems that in their closing remarks the applicants are beginning to realise the true potential impact of their proposed application. A modified application that accommodates most existing vineyards is looking more likely. The industry is having to fight a costly legal battle to protect its interests.
Hawke’s Bay is this country’s second largest wine regions with over 5000ha of land under vine, most of which is on the affected Heretaunga Plains. It would be a disaster of monumental proportions if the Hawke’s Bay wine industry had to shut its doors.
The special tribunal will meet again next year to hear further submissions.