25 Sep 2012

More financial backing for irrigation scheme

4:08 pm on 25 September 2012

The company behind a large-scale irrigation project in central Canterbury is about half way down the track in getting the financial backing it needs to take the scheme up to the construction stage.

Selwyn District Council has approved a $5 million loan to Central Plains Water Ltd to help fund the final design stage of the project.

The company was granted consents two years ago to extract water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers to irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland between the two rivers.

Central Plains chair Pat Morrison says it's spent more than $12 million of farmer shareholder money to get the project this far.

"We needed funding for the next 12 months to enable us to do the final design work, and we've applied to the Government's Irrigation Acceleration Fund for $5.6 million and the Selwyn District for $5 million. The $5 million's come through from the Selwyn District, and we're optimistic we'll hear in the near future about the IAF funding.

"If we get this funding now, with our shareholders' funds we'll have enough to get to the construction stage."

Mr Morrison says that would be the end of 2013 - the beginning of 2014.

He says the first part would be a canal coming up from the Rakaia River and then the canal that would link to two rivers, starting at the Rakaia side."

Central Plains is looking to the electricity company Trust Power to add a water storage component to the scheme, after having to drop plans for its own storage lake in the Malvern Hills.

Trust Power has applied for consent to increase storage in Lake Coleridge to provide extra water for irrigation in the summer months.

He says the results of that hearing are due soon.