3 Jun 2010

CPW hopes to irrigate first farms in two years

7:20 pm on 3 June 2010

The Central Plains Water Company, which has just been granted consents for a large-scale irrigation scheme in Canterbury, hopes it might be able to get water to the first farms in a couple of years.

But that would depend on finance and no further delays in the planning process. There is the potential for further delays because the consents are open to appeal.

After a hearing process that ran for more than two years and heard 2000 submissions, the panel appointed by Canterbury Regional Council and Selwyn District Council has granted 31 consents covering the project's construction and operation.

Central Plains chair Pat Morrison says the company and its legal advisers will spend the next few days looking through the consent conditions, but arranging finance to construct the scheme is a priority now.

Mr Morrison says the planning process has taken more than five years so far, at a cost of about $10 million.

A large canal running between the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers is at the core of the scheme to to irrigate up to 60,000 ha of farmland.

But a storage reservoir that was part of the original plan is no longer included.

Opposition continues

Opponents say they will not stop fighting to halt the scheme.

They are considering whether to appeal to the Environment Court.