The huge Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme has hammered out compromises with appellants against it and half the money it needs to design its first stage is already in the bag.
The chief executive of the irrigation scheme, Derek Crombie, said the last of 10 amendments negotiated with landowners had been filed with the Environment Court yesterday.
The court will review the changes over the next three weeks and either issue or decline the consents.
The individual agreements were confidential because of the Environment Court mediation rules, however most of the changes related to the path of the scheme's headrace across farms, he said.
Although the changes made the plan more expensive, it was better than litigation, he said.
The hearings for the 92 resource consents were held in 2008, and the scheme was given consent in May 2010, however 10 opponents appealed against the decision to the Environment Court.
Most were by farmers who wanted the scheme's headrace canal relocated.
Rather than go through the whole case again in court, CPW has spent the last couple of years working with appellants to find compromises to get the appeals withdrawn.
The scheme was first proposed 11 years ago.
Last week, Selwyn District Council confirmed it would give the scheme the $5.1 million it had earmarked in its annual plan.
That would help pay design costs for the $105m first stage.
CPW has applied for a further $5.6m from the Ministry of Primary Industries' Irrigation Acceleration Fund.
Although nothing was confirmed, the scheme expected to receive about $5m from the fund. About $1m of CPW shareholders' money would top up the planning fund, Crombie said.
The irrigation network will initially service 20,000 hectares of farmland north of the Rakaia River.
CPW will need to buy about 200ha for the headrace canal – it owns about 4ha.
Sale and purchase negotiations would happen alongside the design phase, Crombie said.
To build the project, CPW will have to raise funds from its shareholders, investors and lenders.
The full scheme will service 60,000ha and is expected to add about 1100 jobs to the region and boost the region's economy by more than $1 billion annually.
Trust Power's Lake Coleridge water storage scheme would be part of the overall irrigation project, storing water in the winter to sell to irrigators in the summer.