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Time for the Minister to start digging

Time for the Minister to start digging

Invercargill, 24 February 2013

Federated Mountain Clubs is relieved that the new Conservation Minister, the Hon. Dr Nick Smith, has started digging the Department of Conservation out of the hole it had dug itself into with the Fiordland tunnel and monorail concession applications, says President, Robin McNeill.

“We are confident that the Minister will review the evidence objectively and impartially- and he will come to the same conclusions we came to, that digging holes and building monorails in our backcountry are bad ideas and that the process to date has been flawed”.

Mr McNeill was commenting on the announcement today that Nick Smith will now be the decision-maker for the Milford-Dart Tunnel and Fiordland Link Experience concession applications that were being processed by the Department of Conservation. Mr McNeill had suggested Dr Smith do this in a letter he had written when Dr Smith became Minister of Conservation.

“Like many other New Zealanders, we have been puzzled why these applications haven’t been thrown out already as they don’t stack up economically and they will wreck the world-famous Routeburn Track, ruin cherished Southland family tramping areas, and invite international embarrassment through diminishing UNESCO World Heritage Park status. On top of that, these concessions would be contrary to statutory management plans that were derived from democratic public input”.

Late last year, Federated Mountain Clubs pledged $15,000 to take a judicial review against these projects should they be approved.

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