Solid Energy moves into irrigation schemes
Beleaguered Solid Energy has teamed up with the stalled Central Plains Water irrigation project in mid Canterbury.
Central Plains will harness the project management skills of the SOE.
The coal miner is shedding hundreds of mining staff after a period of rapid expansion.
The Central Plains Water scheme has been working for 12 years to obtain resource consents.
Its last annual reports states an accumulated loss of $16 million that have largely been spent on consultants and legal procedures.
Farmer shareholders have provided some of the funds but the venture was stalled until it received another $5 million ratepayer boost this month from Selwyn District Council.
General manager Derek Crombie says he is hoping for equal funding from the taxpayer-funded Irrigation Acceleration Fund. An announcement is expected later this month.
The money will be used to begin design of the $100 million first stage of the scheme.
Solid Energy will jointly project manage this stage, taking it through design and land procurement stages up to the start of construction.
Group manager external affairs Bill Luff says the partnership will allow Solid Energy to retain some staff for the project.
In an associated move, Environment Canterbury’s government appointed commissioners have announced the overturning of the Rakaia River conservation order.
This will allow Trustpower to take water from Lake Coleridge for a hydro-electric generation scheme and for irrigation water to be used by Central Plains Water.
The Ecan commissioners were appointed in 2010 to speed up irrigation ventures in the region, after sacking elected councillors. Their term was recently extended for another three years.