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$7m to assess irrigation viability in South Canterbury

$7m to assess irrigation viability in South Canterbury

A new funding agreement will investigate the viability of the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme for up to 40,000 ha in South Canterbury, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

‘The Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund will provide $7.044 million over two years to co-fund technical investigations and design work to determine if an irrigation scheme is viable, both from a technical and economic perspective,’ says Mr Guy.

‘This will be matched by funds from shareholder equity and the scheme’s partner, Meridian Energy.

‘If the scheme proves to be viable it has the potential to increase income in the Waimate and Timaru districts by $830 million per annum and create 1,800 jobs.

‘It would also provide long term security for agriculture in these districts and provide landowners with greater confidence around production and investment decisions.

‘The irrigation infrastructure also has the potential to benefit the nationally significant wetland, Wainono lagoon. A consequence of the scheme will be extra flows of water into the lagoon that will achieve better water quality outcomes,’ says Mr Guy.

If viable, the scheme will draw water from the Lower Waitaki River and depending on the outcome of the investigation, construction could begin late 2016 and be completed by the end of 2019.

Hunter Downs Development Company is a joint venture between Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd and Meridian. Initial development costs were met by Meridian Energy.

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