Seven support Tarras water
It will all come out in the wash this week, whether Central Otago ratepayers are willing to let the council back a $39 million commercial irrigation scheme in Tarras. Public submissions regarding Central Otago District Council’s move to support the scheme by guaranteeing 20 per cent of a $35.6m bank loan to build the Tarras Water irrigation infrastructure will be heard at a meeting in Alexandra on Friday with a decision expected this month. When consultation closed last week, the council had received 31 submissions. Council chief executive Phil Melhopt said the small number ‘‘ was not unusual’’ for what was potentially one of the more significant public proposals. In contrast, the representation review, for which the consultation period closed last Friday, received 118 submissions. ‘‘It was another significant piece of consultation that was not about money but how councils would be elected and represented in the future.’’ When the council released its draft long-term plan this year, ratepayers were told that irrigation could transform the local primary economy. People were asked if they wanted the council to support it, in this instance, for the pumps and pipes that would carry water from the Clutha River to about 40 families in the Tarras district, in a scheme which had the potential to add $17.8m a year to the local economy and create 179 new jobs. A total of 16 submissions opposed the proposal and seven supported it. Those against it were most concerned about the council supporting a private business with public money. Alexandra resident Hugh Clarke, who at first agreed with the council under-writing the loan but changed his mind, did not resubmit. ‘‘At first I thought it was a good thing because I like progress, but now I think farmers should finance it themselves,’’ he said. ‘‘No farmer’s ever given me anything, and while I know there are long-term benefits, it takes a long time for those to trickle down.’’ Gordon Perkins, of Galloway, believed it was ‘‘hare-brained’’ and possibly ‘‘far too ambitious’’. ‘‘They’re proposing delivery of water to the farm gate, which is a huge undertaking,’’ he said He also opposed the council under-writing a loan ‘‘because I as a ratepayer could end up paying’’.
DDay: Central Otago ratepayers will have the final say at Friday’s hearing on whether the council should guarantee the Tarras Water Ltd bank loan to establish a $39 million commercial irrigation scheme,