Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hawkesbury Mayor’s call to stall agritourism reform

Hawkesbury City Mayor, Patrick Conolly, has called upon the NSW Government to stall proposed planning reforms for the agritourism sector, saying further consultation is needed.

The State Government is seeking to create relevant planning controls to assist in regulating the growing sector to create certainty and transparency for both business operators and the community.

The reforms would mean that farms would be limited to 50 people per fruit picking session. For functions and tours for more than 30 guests, farms would be limited to only 10 events per year.

Mayor Conolly says Council is supportive of regularising Pick Your Own as a legitimate business use of the land, but not to the detriment of local businesses.

He has written to the NSW Government to ask them to stall the introduction of the reforms to allow time for genuine consultation.

“There are concerns among local businesses – especially farm stay accommodation and farm gate premises – that these reforms will have serious ramifications on their ability to do business,” Mayor Conolly said.

“Agritourism operators have told me that the limits on the number of days per year and visitors per day would make pick-your-own businesses unviable.

“I am concerned that these changes could spell the beginning of the end for Pick Your Own Tourism in the Hawkesbury.”

The Mayor said areas such as Bilpin rely heavily on pick-your-own and other Agritourism businesses, to make use of small parcels of agricultural land that could not otherwise be used for commercial agriculture.

“We want to protect our rural and agricultural character, but we can’t do that if these reforms leave small agricultural lots that are no longer economically viable.”

“I have met with representatives from the industry and I have asked the NSW Government not to introduce the provisions. Instead, further consultation is needed.

“I ask the Department of Planning and Environment to pause, meet with us and get these reforms right,” Mayor Conolly said.

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