Vote favours irrigation scheme

Backers of a $39 million irrigation scheme in Tarras have been given a lifeline by the Otago Regional Council after councillors voted against a recommendation not to support the initiative.

At a council meeting, held in Dunedin yesterday, councillors passed a proposed amendment to its long-term plan that would allow it to invest in the scheme.

Tarras Water asked the council to buy $3.5 million of redeemable preference shares and pay up to $500,000 annually for five years, toward the fixed costs.

The scheme would supply 40 households in Tarras with water pumped from the Clutha River, irrigating 6000ha.

Company spokesman John Morrison said "it's good news for us".

It was a nervous wait to find out how the council would vote on the proposed amendment, Mr Morrison said.

"We are happy that things are progressing and allowed to proceed."

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said councillors had voted seven to three in favour of the amendment.

The decision went against a recommendation from its hearing committee not to allow the change to its long-term plan.

The committee considered 68 submissions it received on the proposed change, with 55 opposed to the scheme investment.

Mr Woodhead said the council would work with Tarras Water during the next month on its proposal to ensure as much conditions the council had were met, before they would have another vote on whether to invest in the scheme or not.

This would allow for Tarras Water to have its prospects ready in early April.

The Southland Times