26 Jan 2012

Hawke's Bay scheme first to benefit from irrigation fund

6:49 am on 26 January 2012

A water storage project in Central Hawke's Bay will get the first boost from a new government irrigation fund.

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will pay $1.7 million towards a nearly $4.8 million feasibility study, which is investigating whether a water storage dam can be built on the Makaroro river.

The dam would increase land that could be irrigated from 6000 hectares to 25,000 hectares.

The Ruataniwha Plains project team leader says it's fitting the Government is sharing the cost because the scheme will benefit generations to come.

Sam Robinson, a project spokesperson and a Central Hawke's Bay hill-country farmer, says the cash injection has eased the burden on the regional council.

He says it's a major investigation for what's hoped will be a major scheme which will have impacts outside Hawke's Bay and intergenerational impacts.

Mr Robinson says it's been a welcome investment by the Government and given the regional council the confidence to proceed at pace.

He says the feasibility study should be finished by June, when $180 million would be sought for investment into the construction of the dam.

The Government will allocate $35 million over five years to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund, which was announced in the budget last year.