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Conservation legislation about protecting not trading away

24 February 2013

Conservation legislation about protecting not trading away nature

The Green Party today cautiously welcomed the announcement that the Minister of Conservation, rather than a second tier Department of Conservation official, will make the decisions on the proposed Routeburn tunnel and the Southland monorail.

“The Green Party called for this to happen last year, and at the time the Government rejected it”, Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“The Minister must ensure he applies the correct legal tests when considering the Routeburn tunnel and the Southland monorail proposals.

“The correct decision under the Conservation and National Parks Acts would be to decline both applications because they are contrary to the purpose of both acts and our national park management plans that have been developed with public input.

“Conservation legislation is about protecting our national parks, not trading away their integrity for a few short-term construction and earthmoving jobs as the Minister's comments about "balancing" economic development and conservation suggest.

Ms Sage said that the 11.3 km Routeburn tunnel involved the equivalent of mining in two national parks because of the large volume of waste rock it would produce. Furthermore, the Southland monorail would require extensive logging of red beech forest and clearance in steep country in Snowdon Forest, an easy to access area near the Mavora Lakes popular for family tramping and camping.

“There is significant public opposition to both proposals because of their impacts on Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks and the internationally important South West New Zealand Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area,” said Ms Sage.

“New Zealanders love and want to protect our national parks.”

Parliament’s Local Government and Environment select committee is considering a petition to stop the Routeburn tunnel supported by more than 24,000 online signatures.

Govt refuses to allow Conservation Minister to decide on the proposals: http://www.greens.org.nz/oralquestions/eugenie-sage-questions-minister-conservation-dart-tunnel

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