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Advanced water schemes keep Crown funding

Central Plains, Kurow, Waimea water schemes keep Crown construction funding

By Paul McBeth

April 5 (BusinessDesk) - The government will help fund the construction of irrigation projects on the Canterbury plains and near Kurow and Nelson as it winds back support for large-scale water schemes.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said all existing Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd development contracts will be honoured, and that the three named schemes will receive funding for their construction phase given how far down the track they were. The government put its water storage funding contracts under the microscope after campaigning on a platform to end government support for large irrigation schemes.

"I recognise that this decision will be disappointing for proponents of projects that won’t be considered or progressed," Robertson said in a statement. "It is important to remember that schemes may be able to continue, but the government believes that public subsidies for large-scale private irrigation can instead be better directed to other areas of need."

Crown Irrigation provided a $65 million loan to fund construction of the $200 million Central Plains Water Stage 2 project, committed up to $35 million to the $70 million Waimea dam build, and has signed a construction funding term sheet for the Kurow Duntroon scheme.

Robertson said the funding for the three projects can be met through existing appropriations provided the Waimea and Kurow projects raise enough private money within their allowed timeframes.

Small-scale, locally-run and environmentally sustainable storage schemes could be considered for funding on an individual basis via the Provincial Growth Fund, he said.

Primary Industries Minister Damien O'Connor said large-scale irrigation schemes need to be environmentally sustainable and economically viable to support a focus on greater values rather than bigger volumes.

(BusinessDesk)

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