Nick Smith to make Fiordland decision
Mon, 25 Feb 2013 6:09p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
Conservation Minister Nick Smith says he'll make the final call on the two radical new tourist routes planned for the journey between Queenstown and Milford Sound.
The competing schemes would bypass the arduous nine-hour return bus journey tourists currently make through Te Anau.
It's the gateway to Fiordland National Park, but the tiny township of Te Anau could disappear off the tourist map if Dr Smith gives the green light on the Milford Dart Tunnel or monorail link.
“They are massive projects, and they are of sufficient significance that the decision should be made by the minister,” says Dr Smith. “We are talking about public land, and I think it needs to be made by a person who is publicly elected and accountable.”
He's only been in the job a month, and Dr Smith has put himself in charge of the two projects.
The first is an 11km tunnel, which will link the existing Routeburn Rd to the Hollyford Rd, allowing tourists to visit the Milford Sound in just two hours.
The second plan involves a 43km monorail ride through the Snowdon Forest.
Both routes would bypass Te Anau and business owners there worry the minister won't consider them in his decision.
“I've very concerned about the situation now that it is going to be purely made on a financial basis, not on the basis on the impact that it could have on our tourism,” says motel owner Nigel Humphries.
“I hope that he really does his homework and considers our heritage, and our wilderness, and how unique it is,” says Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno.
The backers of the tunnel scheme have been waiting seven years for a decision. They're hoping Dr Smith won't waste any time.
“We are pleased there's some progress being made and so momentum can hopefully be brought to this process and hopefully bring it to a close,” says Milford Dart managing director Tom Elworth.
Prime Minister John Key's also pleased his minister's getting things moving.
Dr Smith is planning to visit the affected areas before he makes a decision at the end of the year.
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3/03/2013 11:46:52 a.m.
@ G D claiming that the monorail would jeopardize the WH status is pure scaremongering. Show us the proof. Might as well visit a few existing WH sites as well and see what is allowed or not. I'm not saying that the monorail should be permitted, I'm just saying that criticism of the proposal must be a bit more rigorous instead of emotional.
1/03/2013 8:00:04 p.m.
G D wrote:
@ATROUT the dream world scenario is thinking Nick Smith gets to make this decision, or that the environment will be considered I have more than a "tiny understanding of how a business works." Have you not heard of a budget or a business plan. Business Executives research and crunch the numbers. You can look at how many people are visiting Milford. You cant assume that having a monorail will increase these numbers however losing our World Heritage status will definately have a negative impact. How many visitors are independant travellers? Survey them to find out if they would use the monorail and how much they would be prepared to pay. Approach tour companies to see if they will change to the monorail. It is not rocket science!!! If there is a considerable deficit !!! JUST SAY NO!!!
27/02/2013 11:59:26 a.m.
@ G D what a dream world scenario! To prove beyond doubt that the monorail would be financially viable is not possible. Any tiny understanding of how a business works would tell the simplest soul that 'best estimates' are the rule. The risk is diminished by good research and quality design but proving beyond a doubt doesn't exist. If it did then all good business opportunities would have been long since taken up and new, good ones would be snapped up very quickly indeed. Smith will make his decision on the environmental impacts and he will not take them lightly.
26/02/2013 2:21:07 p.m.
The monorail proposal has to be proven beyond doubt to be financially viable before approval. We dont want to be left with an unused monstrosity-rail running through what probably would no longer be a World Heritage National Park. Numbers cannot be based on what is presently travelling into Milford as many visitors are part of tour groups. The agents are not going to pay for individuals to travel on a third party's monorail when for a fraction of the cost, they can take them on their own busses. They can also accommodate them in Te Anau for less than they would pay in Queenstown.
26/02/2013 8:01:21 a.m.
@IAN GOLDSMITH and just how do you fairly determine what the people want? Not through the consent process because your average citizen is not comfortable in that context. A referendum of sorts? How wide is the net to be cast? nation wide or just in the affected region? No, someone has to take an old fashioned leadership position and weigh up the issues, get good advice and make a considered decision. In the years to come, Nick's decision may just be respected as a wise one. Maybe...
25/02/2013 11:18:43 p.m.
jim Bryson wrote:
I support the concept of monorail rought as it will not only shorten the current rought but make the itself a very pleasursble journey in stead of going through the tunnel option. Jim
25/02/2013 9:11:04 p.m.
Ian Goldsmith wrote:
The issues weren't voted on which is why consultation is the best route and not executive predilection. If the public do not want the monorail then it is best to not proceed.
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