Hunter Downs irrigation scheme down

October 10, 2018
The Hunter Downs irrigation scheme hasn’t got enough support to go ahead.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd announced yesterday it did not have enough buy-in from landowners in its command area between the Waitaki River and Timaru.

The company owns resource consent to use up to 20.5 cumecs of Waitaki River water.

The irrigation proposition was launched in 2006.

In March last year, shares were offered in a $195million scheme to irrigate 21,000 ha and a government development funding grant of $1.37million had been made. By June 2017, the design was shrunk to 12,000 ha.

At the end of last year, South Canterbury rich-lister Gary Rooney’s offer to buy “dry shares” saved the project from being scrapped then.

In April, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd’s $70million term debt funding would no longer be available to the scheme. So the company released a new funding proposal in August, asking all prospective investors to reconfirm their commitment.

Not enough did.

Chairman Andrew Fraser said yesterday “a significant drop-off in support” meant the scheme could not proceed.

It was not all about intensifying land use and converting to dairying, but rather relieving pressure on existing water takes, decreasing reliance on surface water extractions, and using the plentiful Waitaki River resource, he said. . .

These schemes have to have the support of farmers. But without debt funding from Crown Irrigation, the cost would have been too high for too many. IrrigationNZ rightly calls it a lost opportunity for South Canterbury.

The scheme had the potential to significantly boost the Waimate economy, create jobs, improve people’s standard of living and help resolve water quality problems,” says Andrew Curtis, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ.

“It’s disappointing that a scheme with wide reaching community benefits won’t proceed.”

“Much of Environment Canterbury’s plans for improving water quality in the South Canterbury coastal area rely on the development of the irrigation scheme to reduce pressure on groundwater and augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon. Hunter Downs still wants to use its consent to augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon, but the other environmental impacts of the scheme not proceeding will need to be worked through.”

The scheme wouldn’t just have drought-proofed farms, it would have    had environmental benefits in improved water quality and lagoon enhancement.

“While farmers benefit from irrigation development, so do local communities. Irrigation projects are difficult to get off the ground if farmers are the sole funders of major infrastructure projects. There have now been numerous studies completed of New Zealand irrigation schemes and all demonstrate that irrigation have significant benefits for local communities and create substantial new tax income for the government,” says Mr Curtis.

“Other countries are increasing their investment in water storage to recognise that their communities and economies need access to a secure water supply in a changing climate. New Zealand needs to keep making similar investments to future-proof our water resources and food production, and secure our export income.”

On the south of the Waitaki River the economic, environmental and social benefits of irrigation are obvious. Those on the other side of the river will miss out on all of that without the scheme.

Rural round-up

September 17, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Outlines Priorities Ahead of General Election:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has outlined what it sees as the policy priorities for the incoming government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons says the policy manifesto covers a range of issues that will support a confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

“The red meat sector is hugely important to the New Zealand economy – worth $8.5 billion a year, so it’s critical that the incoming government is aware of the issues that affect our sheep and beef farmers,” Parsons said.

“Our first priority is securing investment in research and development that will increase farm productivity and continue adding value to our sheepmeat and beef products. . . .

 

It all depends on China – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution.

Chinese demand for dairy products in particular has grown so rapidly that it was inevitable there would be speed wobbles. With hindsight, we can see that it was the New Zealand drought of autumn 2013, combined with increasing Chinese demand, that led to shortages of milk products in Chinese supermarkets during late 2013. The Chinese importers then over-reacted, and purchased heavily during our summer months. Increased autumn production in the current year has then coincided with Chinese inventories already fully replenished. . .

Water quality rules ‘work in progress’:

The national water industry body says rules on water quality are not set in concrete and will develop further.

New national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers were announced earlier in the year.

Water New Zealand is holding its annual conference in Hamilton from today. Chief executive Murray Gibb said the rules are a work in progress and would be reviewed in 2016.

“There’s been debate as to whether or not it’s sufficiently tight and there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not the corner-stone policy that it imposes a requirement on councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within their regions might lead to declining water quality in some water bodies. . . .

Make a fuss of scheme:

    The prime minister was in Ashburton last Thursday. He then visited Timaru to wander up and down the main street, talking to voters.

A slight detour between those two destinations would have taken him to the seven massive ponds that are the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme, at the very time they were being filled to capacity for the first time.

It would have been a great photo op for the prime minister, and a fitting tribute to the scheme’s backers, to have the PM officially “open” the out-of-river storage project.

Maybe such a function is planned but chances are it’s not. And that’s not a snub to the prime minister, but a reflection more of the personality of the man behind the scheme, Gary Rooney.

He’s a doer, not a talker. He doesn’t go looking for pats on the back.

Where the Herald had plenty of coverage of the Opuha Dam as it was being built in the 1990s, with this project it has been like drawing teeth to get updates.

It’s not that Rooney and his workers were being obstructive, they just did not see the need to speak to the media. They were too busy building the thing.

But if he’s not going to blow his trumpet on the project, we will. . .

Generations of shearing in Brett’s family blood – Sally Rae:

Brett Roberts was destined to a shearer.

Not only does his grandfather, Cliff Waihape, have a shearing contracting business based in Mataura, but four of his uncles, Chad, Chop, Cliff jun and Cody, are also shearers.

”Our family, it’s in our blood,” he said.

Mr Roberts (20) started shearing at a young age, while still at school in Menzies College, Wyndham, with his family members showing him the ropes. . .

 

Southland swede group underway:

A cross-sector industry-led working group is coming together to co-ordinate research and advice to farmers following an issue with swedes affecting dairy cattle this season.

Across Southland, there has been a number of cases of cows becoming ill, and in some cases dying, while (or shortly after) grazing on swede crops.

A joint working group with representatives from a range of sector groups will be chaired by industry body DairyNZ and meet for the first time on Wednesday September 17. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It will also bring in specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.
DairyNZ has already sent an email survey to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers seeking information on whether they have been affected by the issue. It has also been advising farmers to be vigilant if their cows are feeding on swede. . .

 

New appointments at Dairy Women’s Network:

As Dairy Women’s Network grows from strength to strength, so too does its number of professionals grow.

The organisation has most recently acquired an events manager in Kym Gibson of Hamilton and a third regional convenor coordinator in Megan Edmeades of Manawaru (near Te Aroha).

Creating environments and experiences that resonate is a passion for Gibson, and something she is looking forward to fulfilling at the organisation’s 30-plus annual events.

Learning more about the “diverse and dynamic” organisation that is DWN is Gibson’s first challenge in the role, which she started in earlier this month. . . .

 

 


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