Resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project might now be sold after the scheme failed to attract the support needed to move forward.
The 25-year-old plan to increase water availability around Hawarden suffered a big setback in April when the government blocked assistance from the state agency, Crown Irrigation Limited.
In another blow, the $200 million scheme which aims to irrigate 21ha of land failed to get enough local farmers to back it.
Amuri Irrigation Company, which irrigates 28,000ha of land in North Canterbury, has made an offer to purchase resource consents held by Hurunui Water Project.
AIC chairman David Croft thinks the company could deliver a smaller, 8000ha -10,000ha, scheme that would be feasible.
“We believe that there is the potential for a staged smaller irrigation scheme south of the Hurunui which would utilise some of the consents currently held by HWP along with unused water within the AIC schemes, when available,” Mr Croft said.
“We anticipate that one company managing most of the water use and environmental impacts of irrigation in the Hurunui River catchment will provide benefits for the community and efficiencies for all irrigators.”
AIC wouldn’t say how much it was offering to pay for the consents.
Hurunui Water Project Board chairman Peter Harris said it was considering the offer and would hold a meeting of their shareholders later this month.
He said in order to proceed, the proposal would require 75 percent shareholder support.
“The offer from AIC provides a mechanism to expand irrigation into the Hurunui catchment south of the river,” he said.
“It provides a platform for the staged development and future irrigation for the region and ensures that all of the significant effort and investment by HWP returns value that future generations living in this community will benefit from.”