Hunter Downs decision delayed

The future of the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme was still unknown last week.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use Waitaki River water on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was due to decide whether the project would go ahead.

However, chairman Andrew Fraser told Central Rural Life on Friday he was not in a position to make any comment. A few more days were needed before an announcement could be made.

Mr Fraser apologised for the delay but said the company had to ensure it was properly prepared before going public.

The company holds the consent to take Waitaki River water and received a $1.37million Government development grant earlier this year.

Shares were offered in March but, by the end of April, too few were sold to proceed as planned. The scheme was then reduced from the original 21,000ha to 12,000ha.

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has agreed to provide $70 million term debt funding, as long as 9500 shares were sold and a total of 7000 water shares (equal to 7000ha) are issued.

Mr Fraser said on November 29 the company was about 10% short of that target, with commitments from about 50 shareholders.

South Canterbury businessman and landowner Gary Rooney made an offer that almost covered the shortfall.

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