Water storage is more important than ever as climate change causes more severe drought forecasts.
The Hunter Downs Water (HDW) scheme, aimed at irrigating 12,000ha of the Waimate District with a consented water take from the Waitaki River, has finally pulled up stumps after struggling to sign up enough farmers to make it pay.
The scheme was first jeopardised by the newly elected Labour-led Government pulling support for irrigation schemes.
HDW had hoped that a loan from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL) loan would get it over the line, but this disappeared when the Government imposed its policy of requiring large-scale private irrigation schemes to pay their own way.
Hunter Downs said last month that it would go ahead, backed by the local rich-lister Gary Rooney’s company Rooney Holdings Ltd (RHL), well-known by Canterbury farmers for its earthmoving, irrigation, pipe and cable laying, and trucking.
“It is with great disappointment that I advise that as a result of a significant drop-off in support from those farmers previously committed, this project no longer has sufficient numbers to warrant proceeding,” HDW chair Andrew Fraser said.