$80m for irrigation - boost to economy, environmentPrimary Industries Budget 2013
Budget 2013 has confirmed $80 million in funding for regional irrigation projects, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.
“After the extreme drought that most of the country has struggled through this year, the need for better water storage is obvious,” he says.
“There is no shortage of water in New Zealand, but we lack the ability to store and use that water when it’s needed most. Currently, only 2 per cent of rainfall is used for irrigation. We need to do a better job of using this resource.
“Increasing irrigation could see a further 420,000 hectares of irrigated land becoming available, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting exports by $4 billion a year.
“More consistent river flows in summer will also have real benefits for the environment, with improved habitats for fish and birdlife.
“I’m disappointed that Labour and the Greens refuse to support this crucial infrastructure, which is so important to regional New Zealand. Once again, they are opposed to any positive moves to create jobs and exports,” Mr Guy says.
The $80 million funding was announced in January and comes from the Government’s Future Investment Fund, using proceeds from the share offer programme. In total, the Government has signalled plans to invest up to $400 million in regional irrigation schemes to encourage third-party capital investment.
A new Crown company will be established on 1 July to act as a bridging investor for irrigation projects. This will involve short-term, minority investments to help kick-start these regional projects.