$7m boost to Hunter Downs scheme

Last updated 10:42 06/06/2014

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The Government has promised $7m in viability funding for the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said if the scheme proved to be viable, it had the potential to increase income in the Waimate and Timaru Districts by $830 million per annum and create 1800 jobs.

''The Government's Acceleration Funds will provide over $7m over two years to co-fund technical investigations and design work to determine if an irrigation scheme is viable, both from a technical and economic perspective.''

The government funding will be matched by shareholders equity and the scheme's partner, Meridian Energy.

If viable, the scheme will draw water from the Lower Waitaki River and depending on the outcome of the investigation, construction could begin late 2016 and be completed by the end of 2019.

Hunter Downs Irrigation has consents to irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of South Canterbury farmland north of the Waitaki River.

Last month irrigation schemes were given a $40m boost in the Budget. The money came from the Future Investment Fund and was used to buy shares in Crown Irrigation, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced.

The funding came on top of $80m provided in last year's Budget.

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- The Timaru Herald

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