By Robyn Bristow
Hurunui Water Project (HWP) shareholders have voted unanimously to accept an offer from Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) to buy the resource consents held by HWP.
The decision came at a Special General Shareholder meeting held on Tuesday afternoon.
AIC made the offer to the HWP Board in early October following the HWP Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) Water Rights Share Offer that closed on September 21, and failed to gain sufficient support to advance the proposed HWP irrigation scheme.
“The HWP Board is pleased with the unanimous support shown by its shareholders for a proposal that will progress irrigation on the south side of the Hurunui river,” says HWP Board Chair, Peter Harris.
“There is still a significant amount of work to be done to conclude the resource consent transfer. We are working with some urgency to complete this process,” David Croft, Chair of AIC, says.
AIC is initially proposing a smaller piped irrigation scheme of 8000 to 10,000ha, between the Hurunui River and Hawarden/Waikari. Initial reliability from the proposed AIC scheme would be similar to the HWP offering with an increase in reliability when an integrated storage facility is constructed in the future.
AIC irrigates over 28,000 hectares of land in the Amuri Basin, taking water from both the Hurunui and Waiau rivers and recently delivered a $87M pipe upgrade of the open canal network.
“We know there is a strong desire for irrigation to be delivered to farmers south of the Hurunui River. This area has suffered from the impacts and effects of drought over recent years and an irrigation scheme will bring certainty and security to those farming in the area, says Mr Croft.
A recent social assessment study done by AIC, within its catchment, shows that irrigation in the area has led to an increase in the presence of younger families and an increase in ethnicity and diversity.
These changed demographics have in turn helped to boost medical services, increase the range and success of local businesses including builders, vets and rural supplies and benefited community activities.
The study shows there has been a marked increase in the number and proportion of paid employees in the area covered by irrigation with associated higher household incomes.