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Government’s Irrigation Investment ‘Well Deserved’

Media Statement

23 January 2013 – for immediate release

Government’s Irrigation Investment ‘Well Deserved’


New Government funding for irrigation infrastructure means four New Zealand regions may see water storage proposals progress this year – creating new jobs, making farming, viticulture and horticulture more viable, and ensuring more sustainable use of water, says IrrigationNZ.

Today’s announcement of an $80million investment in a Crown-owned company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure is “well deserved”, says IrrigationNZ Chairman John Donkers.

“For many years farmers have personally carried the cost of water infrastructure, which can run into the millions of dollars, yet benefits regional economies enormously. Having a Government-owned company invest in the initial stages takes the pressure off small communities to find that kind of capital up-front. The benefits for regional New Zealand can’t be under-estimated. This investment signals that the Government understands the significant contribution irrigation makes to the country.”

Water projects in the Hawkes Bay, Tasman, Canterbury and Otago are likely to be considered this year, says Mr Donkers.

“All of these regions have well-developed water storage proposals which have already attracted Government support in the investigation phases, but now need additional capital to proceed,” says Mr Donkers. Other regions, including the Wairarapa, are likely to benefit down the track.

Mr Donkers says while IrrigationNZ had asked for Government assistance in line with overseas support for irrigation infrastructure, the industry was surprised and delighted with today’s news.

“This is quite a monumental announcement and has come much earlier than expected so we need to applaud the Government. The funding will also be overseen by quite high level Crown support which will be good for the irrigation sector. This announcement reinforces the need for the investment industry to be interested in irrigation.”

An $80million injection will get many regional water projects over the line. The community outcomes are not limited to irrigation development either, as funding will help address water over-allocation which is consistent with the Government’s Freshwater National Policy Statement as well as improve community water supplies,” says Mr Donkers.

Mr Donkers says the announcement complements the work programmes IrrigationNZ is already focused on.

“Our goal is to ensure irrigators have the tools and education to manage water responsibly. To achieve this we’re rolling out a new ‘irrigator operator training’ course across New Zealand this year to make sure all irrigators have the skills to irrigate efficiently and sustainably. This training will become even more important as new regional water infrastructure projects get underway and it should reassure the public that we have the systems in place to manage further land intensification.”

IrrigationNZ

IrrigationNZ is the national body representing irrigators and the irrigation industry. Its mission is to promote excellence in irrigation throughout New Zealand.

ENDS

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