A large-scale North Canterbury water storage and irrigation scheme that's been in the planning pipeline for 13 years has finally got its first resource consent.
The environmental consent will allow the Hurunui Water Project Company to take water from the Hurunui River to be used for irrigation.
Project manager Amanda Loeffen says the full scheme will supply water to hundreds of properties covering as much as 60,000 hectares of land - putting it on the same sort of scale as the big Central Plains water scheme.
She says detailed design work will start now for the first stage, which will take water directly from the Hurunui for on-farm storage, in order to supply up to 15,000 hectares south of the river. The company hopes to have that completed in two or three years .
Ms Loeffen says funding so far has come mainly from about 200 farmer shareholders.
She says hundreds more consents will be required to construct the scheme and it could take until 2020 to reach the final stage.