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Irrigation scheme set to boost North Canterbury economy

1 July 2015

Irrigation scheme set to boost North Canterbury regional economy and workforce

An irrigation scheme, planned for the Hawarden area of North Canterbury, has the potential to boost the Canterbury regional economy by $100 million even at the initial stage of development.

The Waitohi Irrigation Scheme run by the Hurunui Water Project (HWP), is now in the final stages of gaining consents to kick-start Stage One. The project will ultimately provide a solution for the North Canterbury agricultural sector and community which has been threatened with the compounding impact of drought and lower dairy returns.

HWP chief executive Alex Adams says the scheme is a sound future model for sustainable water and agricultural development, which has involved robust consultation and open negotiation with surrounding farmers to help address the challenges faced in North Canterbury.

“Our 190 farmer shareholders have invested $10 million developing the scheme and when Stage One becomes a reality, after the nine consents that have been granted become unencumbered, it will be a major contribution to the local economy,” say Adams.

“The original economic evaluation for the full sized scheme of 58,500 hectares was forecast to boost the district economy by $480 million and result in an additional 3,400 jobs in the region,” says Adams.

“The initial scheme size will be smaller, closer to 20% of that size but still represents a $100 million boost to the regional economy and 680 jobs. This will help relieve the district of the extraordinary challenges and threats it faces,” he says.

The nine resource consents given to HWP to take, store and use water in the Hurunui District are in the final stages of the Environment Court process after two appeals were successfully mediated and placed before the court in February this year.

“The company has invested heavily in a consultative approach and the success of that process can be evidenced in that there were no appeals of an environmental nature to the scheme,” says Adams.

While HWP is uncertain when its consents will finally become unencumbered, they’re delighted to be one step closer to Stage One given the extraordinary 13-year development journey, including the changing regulatory and legislative environment.

“Ultimately though when the irrigation scheme actually gets going it will be a significant contribution to the local economy and address some of the challenges being faced by a resilient but weary North Canterbury farming and local community,” he says.


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