Officials have advised the $200 million project be given provisional approval but the Minister of Conservation is still to make a decision on the scheme.
Labour MP Ruth Dyson is against the project saying the monorail will cut a swathe through significant areas of pristine beech forest and has the potential to cost Fiordland its World Heritage status.
“Frankly I think the combination of those things, plus the fact that tourists come to New Zealand for other reasons – they want the pureness of our country.
“I think the stakes are too high, we have too much at risk, and it should be declined.”
It is disappointing that Labour is going against the advice of two separate independent reports from the Department of Conservation. Both the Hearing Commissioner and the DOC Officers have said the project should be provisionally approved. These are reports from public servants whose job is to consider if the impact on conservation land would be too detrimental. I’m disappointed that Labour is saying DOC has it wrong in this case.
There is no risk to World Heritage status with this proposal – you have to be insane to actually believe that UNESCO would remove world heritage status from Fiordland because of a monorail. And as I have said before the vast vast bulk of the monorail does not go through the National Park. It goes through the Snowdon Forest Stewardship Area.
As for tourism, I have no doubt this would lead to many more tourists visiting Fiordland. A journey by catamaran and monorail, over bus, will appeal to lots of people. Also they are proposing that the road used to construct the monorail be turned into a mountain bike route also – again lots of people will want to do that.
The man who will have the final say is Nick Smith.
Yesterday he released official advice from DOC about the project, which recommends he give the green light.
But the Conservation Minister says he still has a lot more research to do before he makes his decision.
“There’s a bit of a commercial question as to whether this thing commercially will fly.
“And the reason that is concerning for me is that if it does fail I don’t want the department and the taxpayer being left with sort of a half built white elephant.”
I’ve touched on this before and I agree that is a concern. There should be some provision that money be set aside for it to be removed, if it does fail.