22 May 2009

Storage component of irrigation scheme shelved

1:30 pm on 22 May 2009

The company planning a big irrigation project in Canterbury says it may make a fresh attempt to include a water storage component at some point in future.

But in the meantime, Central Plains Water will focus on getting approval for a scaled-down scheme.

The company is seeking consents to take water to irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland between the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers.

Commissioners hearing the application have agreed to consider an amended scheme after indicating they would not grant consents for the original proposal, which included a large storage reservoir.

They say a reduced scheme is likely to be more sustainable with fewer adverse effects.

Central Plains Water chairman Pat Morrison says having an irrigation scheme without storage means the reliability of water supply for farmers won't be as great, but the company has the option of revisiting that in future.

The hearing will resume on 5 October and the commissioners say it will delay their final decision by four to six months.

Mr Morrison says the application process has already taken several years, so a further six month delay will not be critical.