24 Mar 2010

Hearings resume on Canterbury irrigation scheme

10:48 pm on 24 March 2010

A hearing for the controversial Central Plains Water irrigation scheme has resumed in Christchurch to discuss the conditions of the plan.

Central Plains Water Ltd has sought consents to take water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers to irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland.

The project, costing an estimated $150 million, includes a 60 kilometre-long canal and a 460 kilometre-long network of irrigation channels.

Supporters say it will add $263 million a year to Canterbury's agricultural production.

The scheme was scaled back after commissioners rejected plans for a 55 metre-high dam and reservoir, saying this would have flooded some farms.

However, some landowners are still unhappy at giving up parts of their farms for the construction of the canal, while others also have concerns that drinking water may become contaminated.

Lawyers and expert witnesses for Central Plains presented evidence on Wednesday morning on the legal and environmental conditions to be imposed on the scheme.

Tim Deans told the hearing on Wednesday afternoon he was implacably opposed to the canal going across his property, and an alternative course should be considered.

Other submitters, including Fish and Game and kayaking groups, voiced their concerns about the effect of the scheme on rivers.

The first hearings on the scheme began two years ago and commissioners say a final decision will be issued by the end of May.