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Crucial irrigation project seeks external investment

Crucial irrigation project seeks external investment to progress

The much-needed Hurunui Water Project (HWP) irrigation scheme for the drought-stricken areas of Hurunui in North Canterbury is seeking further financing to get the project to a commercial-ready stage.

HWP is behind the Waitohi Irrigation Scheme which has been hampered by unexpected and extraordinary delays due largely to the changing legislative and regulatory environment over the last seven years (see History of Scheme Development attached).

HWP Chief executive Alex Adams says shareholders have invested $10 million to date but a further $1 million external financing is required to move the project to a commercial-ready stage and be able to access $1.1 million available from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerated Fund (IAF) scheme.

“Our farmer shareholders face compounding challenges with drought and lower dairy returns, so external investment is now required to allow the scheme to proceed to the next important phase,” says Adams.

The scheme had nine consents granted in 2013. Two appeals were lodged and are awaiting a final Environment Court ruling, following a mediated agreement in February this year. There were no appeals of an environmental nature.

“We are ready to proceed with further investigation work followed by engineering and economic modelling to have the first stage commercial-ready when the consents become unencumbered but further investment is required,” says Adams.

He says the development of the scheme has been impacted by the introduction of a new legislative and regulatory regime related to fresh water management but the operating company remains confident about its future.

“While it’s undoubtedly great for the long-term fresh water management of New Zealand, the timing of new policies and regulations, including the introduction of the 2010 Environment Canterbury Act, relating to improved water management, and the introduction of nutrient load limit regulation, has caused unanticipated delays to this particular project,” says Adams.

“There’s a lot at stake, not only the original investment and the wellbeing of those in the Hurunui District but also a significant $100 million economic boost to the regional economy and an estimated 680 jobs that could be lost if the initial scheme cannot continue apace.”

Adams says HWP is in discussion with some parties regarding the required financing, including Government, and seeking interest more widely.

“For the benefit of the wider community and our shareholders who have already made a significant outlay, we’re hopeful that there can be an exceptional response to our requirement for external financing because of the extraordinary set of circumstances surrounding the project’s development,” says Adams.


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