31 Oct 2009

Canterbury irrigation scheme approved

9:23 pm on 31 October 2009

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says consent for a large irrigation scheme in Canterbury is good news for the rural community.

Resource consent for the Central Plains water enhancement scheme was granted on Friday, almost two years after hearings began.

The $135 million scheme will take water from the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers to irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland.

Opponents say the canal system will damage many rural livelihoods to benefit a few.

Christchurch City Council recently withdrew its investment in the scheme, saying it favoured the Selwyn district.

But Mr Parker concedes that what is good for rural Canterbury is good for Christchurch.

He says the city council may review its position as a trustee of Central Plains Water next year.

Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe says all stakeholders will be able to have their say on the consent conditions.

Compensation will be offered to 61 farmers who will lose some of their land.

Central Plains Water Ltd acknowledges some people will be unhappy to have their land taken.

But chairman Pat Morrison says the construction will eventually enhance these properties.