Meridian confident of consent for Hunter Downs project

Meridian Energy is confident its Hunter Downs irrigation scheme will happen, after an Environment Canterbury hearing panel issued a minute to parties indicating consent should be granted.

A joint proposal between the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust (formed by the mayors of Waimate, Mackenzie and Timaru District) and Meridian, the irrigation scheme will take water from the lower Waitaki River and distribute it for use to over 40,000 hectares in the Waimate and Timaru districts.

The water would be pumped from the Lower Waitaki River below Black Point through canals and piped to farmers’ gates.

Environment Canterbury’s panel said consent should be granted based on a minimum flow of 152 cumecs, although a final decision is not expected until March 2010.

Meridian’s water infrastructure manager Brian Ellwood said it looked like a workable solution.

“It appears to have established two bands. With one band being reserved for new users sharing flows between 152 and 175.5 cumecs.”

Commissioners requested further information on three matters.

“Hunter Downs is assessing these and will make a full response to at a brief hearing scheduled for March. The resource consent hearing for this application was completed a little over two years ago, so we are pleased to have some progress towards a decision,” he said.

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