28 Apr 2010

Landowners surveyed on irrigation scheme

7:30 am on 28 April 2010

Landowners in Wairarapa are being asked to show they're on board with a proposed irrigation scheme that could see water pumped to drought-prone areas in the region.

The plan is to irrigate up to 30,000 hectares of the Wairarapa valley, from Mount Bruce to Lake Ferry.

Wairarapa Water Use Project Group, made up of iwi, industry and local body representatives, has released the findings of an economic study into the proposed scheme carried out by economic consultants Nimmo Bell and BERL.

The study found that if 80% of landowners in the project area adopted irrigation in the first 25 years, the wider Wellington economy would receive an extra $526 million and up to 14,000 jobs would be created.

It also showed that if some landowners switched to more intensive horticulture and cropping, returns could be even greater.

Wairarapa Water Use Project Group chair Fran Wilde says landowners now need to show their support for the idea.

Ms Wilde says a survey of land users is being carried out, the results of which will be known by June.

She says the irrigation project group also hopes to be able to raise enough money to apply for a resource consent by next year.