Canterbury irrigation scheme 'will hold farmers to account'

6:37 pm on 27 April 2021

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme will service more than 50,000 hectares of private farmland for up to the next 10 years

The Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme will service more than 50,000 hectares of private farmland for up to the next 10 years Photo: SUPPLIED/ MHV Water

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

"This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term," the hearing commissioner's report states.

The report said the demands on MHV would be "challenging but achievable".

"It is a significant step in the right direction, and it is now up to the applicant (MHV Water) to demonstrate that the necessary reductions can be made and are sufficient to result in environmental improvements."

Some environmental groups have opposed the consent bid, due to fears that higher levels of nitrate would be discharged, which they said could affect drinking water.

MHV chief executive Melanie Brooks said the renewal being granted provided greater clarity of what was expected of the cooperative.

"[It provides] a higher level of certainty and holds our farmers to account on achieving improved water quality outcomes.

"Importantly, with confirmed consent conditions we are now able to refine our internal programmes ... to all meet or exceed the new conditions."

The public was unable to make submissions on the renewal application because they were able to do so as part of the original consent process.

Brooks added the cooperative had reached out to many concerned parties on the replacement renewal.

"I look forward to continuing these conversations and welcome more discussion where people have concerns," she said.

"I am proud of the work that our farmers are doing, and are continuing to do, to effect improved environmental outcomes and I know the granting of this consent will support further improvements."

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