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Record turnout for Central Plains Water workshops

28 June 2013

Record turnout for CPW workshops

Central Plains Water Ltd had a record turnout to its series of workshops with nearly 500 in total attending the four workshops, including nearly 300 to the final briefing at Darfield.

Derek Crombie, CEO of CPWL, said he was greatly encouraged by the large turnout, and blown away by the numbers who came to the final workshop in Darfield.

“At the start of the evening we only put out about 100 chairs and we had to keep adding until the Darfield Community Hall was full,” he said.

The first workshop was a briefing to farm advisers, accountants and bankers with shareholder meetings in Dunsandel, Greendale and finally Darfield.

“The aim of the workshops was to update our shareholders and their advisers on the status of the project to assist them with their decisions to take up surface water irrigation with CPWL.

“With the employment of key Solid Energy staff, the project planning has moved quickly over the last six months and we are getting to the point where we need farmer commitment to the scheme and the amount of water that they will require,” he said.

Topics covered in the workshops included an overview of the entire scheme, overview of Stage 1, nutrient management and limits, the economics of irrigation, the capital cost of the project and the cost to farmers plus the Water User Agreement.

“A key requisite of obtaining farmer shareholder support is to provide the detail around the construction timing, scheme operating criteria and the costs associated with the irrigation and nutrient management requirements.

‘”The shareholders hold the rights to use the water and now is the time for them to confirm that they are prepared to fund the construction phase,” he said.

CPWL will organise a series of local cluster group meetings in early to mid July so that farmers can learn more specific information as it relates to their farm.

“Across the CPW area we have a range of soil types and farming operations. Some have irrigation already, some have part irrigation, and some have none. These cluster groups will focus more sharply on individual situations.

“Our Dunsandel workshop was aimed at the first 20,000 hectares under the scheme and was tailored primarily with the switch from ground water use to surface water use. Workshops 2 (Greendale) and 3 (Dunsandel) focused on conversion from dry land to irrigated land.

“Firm commitments are needed now before we can move to construction planning to deliver surface water to the first 20,000ha area by the 2015/16 irrigation season. Farmer support and uptake for the remaining 40,000ha of the scheme is also critical so we can start design on the next stages,” he said.

The full schedule of speakers included:

• CPW’s CEO Derek Crombie with an overview of the “Whole Scheme Concept”.
• Michael Grey from CPW provided an overview of Stage 1 of the scheme.
• Ian Brown from ECAN provided an overview of the new nutrient management regime to achieve environmental goals;
• Susan Goodfellow from CPW provided further detail on what the proposed nutrient management regime means to CPWL farmers (Darfield workshop)
• Andy MacFarlane discussed the Economics of Irrigation and covered off farm financials including farm systems and the costs of intensification
• Craig Armitage, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, looked at the project financials including funding plan and indicative costs for farmers, the prospectus and the capital raise timetable.
• David Goodman from Goodman Tavendale Reid explained the Water User Agreement, its purpose and key issues.

ENDS

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