North Otago irrigators say it is too early to know if they
will be applying for funding from a new investment company
due to be set up by the Government.
The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC), whose shareholders
include the 10,000ha North Otago Irrigation Company
irrigation scheme in Waitaki, yesterday welcomed Wednesday's
announcement by primary industries minister David Carter that
$80 million would be invested in a Crown investment fund to
set up a new company to help bridge funding gaps in regional
WIC chairman Fraser McKenzie said the investment was expected
to ease investment worries for both new schemes and existing
schemes that wanted to modernise.
''The financial sector traditionally does not `understand'
irrigation development, and it can be difficult to attract
external investment. The ability to obtain financial capital
will become even more important as the cost of developing
infrastructure continues to escalate.''
WIC shareholders accounted for a 75,000ha of irrigable land
in both North Otago and South Canterbury, but Mr McKenzie
said it was not known whether any of the collective's five
irrigation schemes or its individual irrigators would seek
co-funding from the Crown entity.
WIC policy manager Elizabeth Soal added that there would be
strict criteria around the availability of funding, and the
Crown investment fund should not be seen as a subsidy for
''The Crown is expecting a return on its investment, and will
be a minority investor in these developments.
''Irrigation projects will have to demonstrate that the
project will be self-sufficient in the long term, will
deliver benefits to the community, and have robust
environmental management processes in place.''
The new company would sit well beside the Irrigation
Acceleration Fund, which provides co-funding for strategic
water management studies and developing irrigation project to
the investment-ready stage.
Both schemes would help ensure the value and importance of
irrigation to regional communities was recognised, she said.