24 Mar 2010

Water company heartened at pledge to streamline process

7:42 am on 24 March 2010

The company behind New Zealand's biggest irrigation project has taken heart from the Government's commitment to remove regulatory road blocks to irrigation and water storage in Canterbury.

Central Plains Water Limited expects to have consents issued in April to take water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers to irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland.

The commissioners considering the proposal are holding hearings on Wednesday and Thursday to look over the resource consent conditions before giving their final approval.

Central Plains chairman Pat Morrison says it has taken more than five years so far to prepare the applciation and have it heard at a cost of nearly $10 million.

However, Mr Morrison says the costs and delays will continue to mount if there are appeals and would like to see the Government act on its commitment to remove obstacles by streamlining that process.

The scheme no longer includes a large storage reservoir, but there is still opposition from some landowners concerned about the 60-kilometre long, 30-metre wide head-race canal that will cross their land.