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$13m flood protection for Milford Sound

28th February 2008

$13m flood protection for Milford Sound

The Labour-led government is investing $13 million to upgrade flood protection in Milford Sound to preserve the world-class tourist spot, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick and Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

The Ministers are in Milford today to announce the new project, which will protect the main access road, airstrip and other infrastructure from damage or closure during severe flooding that could occur once every 100 years.

Steve Chadwick says more than half a million visitors a year are attracted to this remote and stunning part of Fiordland, and the Labour-led government is committed to preserving this unique national treasure as it is.

“Milford is a high risk area that receives 8 metres of rainfall a year, and extremely heavy rain is becoming more frequent and heavier. This investment is about making sure the area is safe and current infrastructure is protected to avoid any closure of Milford Sound and significant loss of tourism revenue.

“During a recent visit to Milford Sound, I saw for myself the fragile state of the only access road, which could be washed out and closed by the Cleddau River in severe rainfall.”

This type of flooding could also threaten the local airstrip, sewage treatment station, staff accommodation, diesel storage tanks and fishing facilities. This could cause the indefinite closure of Milford Sound Village. This decision will also open the way for redevelopment of the local hotel or other infrastructure that had been on hold for a number of years.

Damien O’Connor says Fiordland National Park generates around $230 million to the national economy a year, with one third of all international visitors to New Zealand visiting the area. 90 percent of visitors to the park visit Milford Sound.

“Flood protection will enable this popular tourist attraction to continue to operate during severe weather, and appropriate new development and infrastructure can go ahead once the project is complete.

“This means that we can continue to provide the best possible facilities to visitors, while also protecting the natural beauty of the sound.”

ENDS

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