Inquiry into possible breach by scheme

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The Otago Regional Council is investigating a possible resource consent breach by the multimillion-dollar Dairy Creek irrigation project outside Clyde.

The project, which was approved in July following years of planning, is a joint venture between the Dairy Creek Irrigation Company and Pioneer Energy.

The ORC first granted resource consent for the project to the Manuherikia Irrigation Society in 2003.

The Department of Conservation initially opposed the project because of effects on lake and recreation values, and Transit New Zealand offered conditional support and expressed concern about water use effects, but both submissions were withdrawn before the hearing.

Resource consent was then updated in 2013 and again in 2016 to include the Dairy Creek Irrigation Company.

ORC manager environmental services Martin King confirmed the council was investigating the project, but could not comment further.

He confirmed an audit was carried out at the site in December.

Major earthworks were carried out in the Dairy Creek area for several months last year. The site is listed as an outstanding natural resource in the Central Otago District Council’s district plan.

The News contacted the CODC in August requesting resource consent documents concerning the environmental and heritage aspects of the Dairy Creek irrigation scheme, but was told, “council does not hold this information, so unfortunately we are unable to help you”.

Last week, CODC planning team leader Ann Rogers said the Dairy Creek Irrigation Company had two land use consents.

One consent, issued in 2015, related to an intake structure at the site, while the other consent related to the construction of a pump shed building which breached the skyline, and was granted in November last year.

The council would monitor the site for compliance once the consent holder had informed the council that work was complete, she said.

Dairy Creek Irrigation Company director Tim Rivers declined to comment on the investigation before an outcome was reached, but said the project was otherwise positive.

“We’ve commissioned the scheme – the project’s gone really well.

“There is some stage 2 pipe to go into the ground. We’re just waiting on different easements to finish that off.

“We’d hope everything would be complete by the winter.”

Eight landowners had signed up for the scheme so far, he said.

The News contacted the Manuherikia Irrigation Society for comment but was told the society was not involved in the Dairy Creek project.