Council seeking feedback

The public can now have a say on whether the Central Otago District Council should be guaranteeing loans for irrigation schemes.

At a special meeting yesterday, the council approved a statement of proposal seeking public feedback on its plans to support irrigation projects. Submissions will close on October 3.

The new policy was prompted by a request from Tarras Water Ltd for the council to guarantee a $26.7 million bank loan towards the Tarras irrigation scheme. The scheme will provide irrigation for 6563ha and water supplies for domestic, stock, light industrial uses and firefighting.

The council resolved to cap its loan guarantee at 20% of the scheme's capital value, for a term of up to five years. It also introduced conditions relating to the level of support from the Otago Regional Council and the documentation for the project.

As well, it decided to introduce a general policy on guaranteeing loans for irrigation projects along the same lines, capping the figure at 20% of the capital value for a maximum of five years.

The public can now make submissions on both those resolutions.

In its statement, the council said it expected more requests to support irrigation infrastructure. Staff and councillors had been working closely with the community on possible irrigation projects in the Manuherikia catchment, as well as in Tarras, and the council had given $45,000 in grants for irrigation feasibility studies so far.

Council chief executive Phil Melhopt told councillors yesterday he hoped the report was "fairly straightforward" and believed the statement of proposal should "tick all the boxes".



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