change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) to
allow it to fund water storage projects that directly lead to environmental
benefits is a very positive step and should be extended to recognise resilience
and social benefits as well," says Infrastructure New Zealand, Chief
Executive Stephen Selwood.
"To date, existing
rules guiding the government's irrigation investment arm have placed a too
narrow focus on direct economic benefits.
"This has resulted
in disproportionate emphasis on maximising land use productivity and
insufficient recognition of wider economic, social and environmental benefits.
criteria to include the full scope of costs and benefits from irrigation is
not currently adequately recognised include enhancing the resilience of rural
areas in the face of climate change, supporting employment and improving the
quality and amenity of freshwater resources.
"In the immediate
term, this means wider economic and social benefits, including increased
regional employment and improved freshwater swimming quality, will be better
reflected in the reasons the public invests in irrigation infrastructure.
"We also know that
irrigation is increasingly being used to improve environmental performance by
recharging aquifers, guaranteeing minimum river flows and flushing systems.
are of the utmost importance over the long term as rainfall patterns shift in
response to climate change.
"Yet resilience is
not currently a significant driver for irrigation investment, and even
environmental factors are approached from the perspective of mitigating effects
rather than improving environmental performance.
full spectrum of costs and benefits over the long term is a core infrastructure
activity and needs to be included in CIIL’s brief," Selwood says.
For further information and comment contact
Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209