A resource consent has been granted for the South Canterbury Hunter Downs irrigation scheme.
The scheme is a joint venture between the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust and Meridian Energy.
It will use water from the Lower Waitaki River to irrigate up to 40,000ha east of the Hunter Hills between the Waitaki and Timaru.
When completed, the project will be one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The consent, which has been granted for 35 years, is for water only, with further infrastructure applications expected.
More than 400 submissions were received on the scheme, with most opposed.