$26m irrigation scheme gains support

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 06:43 20/02/2014

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Promoters of the proposed Flaxbourne Community Irrigation scheme are to meet with interested farmers as they continue to work toward getting the scheme up and running.

Chairman Kevin Loe said about 62 per cent of the potential area to be irrigated in the Ward and Seddon areas of Marlborough had been taken up.

The scheme's promoters had met with Ministry for Primary Industries' irrigation acceleration fund staff and they were "very favourable" towards the project, he said.

There was another meeting for farmers interested in signing up to the $26 million irrigation scheme covering rural areas in Ward and Seddon on Friday this week.

There were a lot of people still deliberating whether to join the scheme or not, Mr Loe said.

The group was working through the process, but so far, the ministry and the Marlborough District Council had been supportive.

"The council is incredibly supportive every step of the way," Mr Loe said.

"Subject to written formal notification, we have been given approval for matched funding to go to the next stage."

That would include a detailed cost-benefit analysis for the ministry.

The Flaxbourne Community Irrigation scheme was unveiled to the community at a meeting in Ward in November.

It proposes building a 7.8 million cubic metre dam on the Flaxbourne river, with six pumps to irrigate about 2200 hectares.

Promoters estimate the scheme would cost $26 million, at $11,873 a hectare, based on 2200ha, or $3.84 a cubic metre of water.

The scheme would provide opportunities for farmers to diversify into mixed cropping or viticulture.

Further work was needed to advance the scheme.

Promoters said about $500,000 would be needed during the next year for work on the proposal, including feasibility studies and resource consent.

Landowner contributions were sought, at a cost of $200 a hectare, based on what landowners would want to irrigate if the scheme was successful.

Final consultation and approval of the scheme was due in December next year and commissioning expected in 2016 or 2017.

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- The Marlborough Express

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