Opponents of a large irrigation scheme in Mid-Canterbury want their side heard when consents are considered, and say nitrate pollution is a concern. An independent commissioner is to consider the MHV water cooperative’s bid for a replacement consent to irrigate 56,000 hectares of private farmland for the next 10 years. The opponents claim higher levels of nitrate will be discharged, which could affect drinking water. Public submissions were part of the original consent process so can no longer be heard but environmental group Aotearoa Water Action are challenging this and believe their views should be taken into account when the replacement consent is considered as they think there is a case to challenge that. MHV operates on the Canterbury Plains inland from Ashburton, drawing water from the Rangitata and Ashburton rivers in specific conditions. It has 320km of open races, and about another 100km of piped infrastructure, and is an environmentally responsible organisation.