25 Feb 2013

Monorail move by minister welcomed

9:57 am on 25 February 2013

The backers of a proposed tunnel to Milford Sound say it is a good thing that Conservation Minister Nick Smith is taking charge of considering the concessions required for the Milford Dart tunnel and a separate monorail to be built in Fiordland National Park.

Dr Smith told Morning Report the projects are of national significance and decisions about them should be made not by a departmental official, but by someone who is publicly elected and accountable.

He said the most important thing is working out what impacts the projects will have on the parks.

Milford Dart Ltd managing director Tom Elworthy said progress has been slow and he hopes Dr Smith won't waste any time.

The Save Fiordland group wants the minister to scrap the two projects.

Dr Smith said a balance needs to be found between conservation and development and jobs.

But SF chair Daphne Taylor said that can be achieved in the long run without Dr Smith giving the projects the go ahead.

She said it's important the minister keeps in mind the benefits of New Zealand's clean green image on the tourism industry, rather than a short term political view of job creation leading up to the next elections.

Green MP Eugenie Sage said balance and jobs are not part of conservation legislation.