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By AMANDA BOWES

The constantly changing design footprint of the Hurunui Water Project’s (HWP) proposed irrigation scheme and the application for requiring authority has the Upper Waitohi Landowners Association concerned.

The scheme is consented to use water from storage the HWP plans to build on land outside the river channels.

Most of the water will come from the Hurunui River when it is running at a high flow, with a small amount from the Waitohi River.

David Fincham, chairman for the Association says some members of the group may not be affected by the proposed design, but as it has changed considerably since the original Lake Sumner- Eskhead proposal, anything could happen.

“A lot of pipe work would go through properties whose owners aren’t even shareholders on the current proposed plan.”

They are also concerned about the impact of the requiring authority that HWP has applied for.

Chris Pile, CEO of the HWP, says an application has been made for requiring authority status, saying it is “almost a condition of bankers and funders” to have a requiring authority in place.

Requiring authorities can be a Minister of the Crown, a local authority or a network utility operator approved under the Resource Management Act.

Requiring authorities can apply to a local authority to designate land, apply to the Minister of Land Information to use the compulsory acquisition powers in the Public Works Act 1981 and go on to private land (after giving notice) to undertake investigations under the Public Works Act 1981.

Mr Pile says the HWP would never take land or require land without consultation with landowners and following the correct processes.

David Fincham says at an independently chaired meeting in 2013, which the HWP and the association attended, a reassurance was given that the HWP would never seek requiring authority. This assurance had been “broke”.

Concerns have also been raised over the implications of the Hurunui District Council buying shares in HWP.

The council has set aside $500,000 in its annual plan to buy shares, but won’t finalise its decision until due diligence and a final round of consultation is done.

Mr Fincham says it is not just major infrastructure that will affect landowners, but also the large area of pipe work on non-shareholder properties.

The association was not “anti-irrigation, far from it”, but it was likely there would be a large
number of people who would be affected who were “currently unaware of how the
design may affect them”.

“The Waitohi group has just ended up in the wrong place.

“All we are doing is representing the landowner’s interests.”

A shareholders meeting was held last week to give an update on where the HWP was at, which included looking at alternative storage locations.

Discussions with Ngai Tahu and other undisclosed parties are in progress to try to mitigate the impact of the scheme on landowners, including the Upper Waitohi Landowners Association, says Mr Pile.