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Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water Limited requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme in South Canterbury.

“The irrigation scheme will take water from the Waitaki River to irrigate land between Waimate and Timaru. Hunter Downs Water has previously obtained water-take consent from Environment Canterbury and a development grant from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited. This scheme has the potential to irrigate 40,000 hectares, bringing benefits to 200 farmers. The economic benefits to the region are estimated at an increase in output of $830 million per year, and 1840 jobs in South Canterbury.

“A requiring authority has the ability to set aside land for infrastructure, such as road, rail, energy or water, and I am satisfied Hunter Downs Water meets the criteria to become one. This authority status is necessary to enable the scheme to be developed.

“This decision is an important milestone for the Hunter Downs Water project. It will give Hunter Downs Water Ltd the authority to apply to the Timaru and Waimate councils and Environment Canterbury for the necessary designations to implement the scheme.

“The approval of this requiring authority status to Hunter Downs Water Ltd reaffirms this Government’s commitment to supporting well-designed water augmentation schemes. We reject the simplistic view held by opposition parties that all water storage for irrigation is bad and will continue to support projects that meet high environmental standards,” Dr Smith concluded.

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