Narrow margin votes against Wrights Road storage ponds

At a special general meeting held on Wednesday 31 January, Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) shareholders narrowly missed reaching the 75 per cent majority required to proceed with construction of the Wrights Road storage ponds with 71.23 per cent of shareholders voting for the proposal. 28.77 per cent of shareholders voted against the proposal with 94.14 per cent of eligible shareholders casting votes.

Seventeen years ago, WIL purchased a property near Oxford for the storage ponds which would hold 8.2 million cubic metres of water once constructed. The ponds would have stored excess water diverted from the Waimakariri River during high river flow or low scheme demand. Stored water would supplement irrigation when intakes are restricted from the Waimakariri River, while also providing water for environmental initiatives when the water is not required for irrigation.

In June 2013, WIL received a building consent to construct the storage ponds. In October 2014, a resource consent was issued; however, these consents were then challenged through the Environment Court and subsequently granted in August 2020.

WIL’s CEO Brent Walton says while it was disappointing to see the project not proceed at this time, the Companies Act requires 75 per cent approval for all major transactions which is an extremely high threshold for the irrigation scheme to reach.

“We came very close to reaching the threshold, with almost two and a half times the number of shareholders supporting the storage ponds proposal versus those opposing it, but we didn’t quite reach the required figure of 75 percent shareholder approval.

“We will now regroup while seeking ideas from shareholders as to how to move forward from here. We’ll continue to assess options to provide shareholders with a reliable water supply.”

Mr Walton says WIL believes that securing a reliable water supply is one of the only ways for Waimakariri’s farmers to continue viable farming operations into the future, while also allowing the cooperative to pursue environmental initiatives which benefit the wider community.

“The storage ponds would have enabled us to use the water in the off-season to pursue environmental initiatives such as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and Targeted Stream Augmentation (TSA), which would complement the work shareholders are doing to enhance biodiversity on land and waterways within our scheme area.”