Amendment to Aspiring National Park Plan Declined
Roading Amendment to National Park Management Plan is Declined.
The New Zealand Conservation Authority has declined to approve an amendment to the Mount Aspiring National Park Management Plan, allowing for the construction of a new road and tunnel within Mt Aspiring National Park.
The Otago Conservation Board had recommended that the Conservation Authority amend part of section 8.14 of the Mt Aspiring Park plan.
The amended policy would read (changes in bold):
”There will be no increase in the extent of formed roads within the existing park boundaries except for a road (if approved through the concession process) branching off the Routeburn Road for approximately1.5km above ground then into a tunnel through to the Hollyford Road, for use only by vehicles specifically authorised by a concession for use on the road.
This means the plans of the Milford Dart Company to build a bus tunnel from part of the Routeburn Road to the Hollyford Valley to reduce the travel time significantly from Queenstown to Milford Sound, cannot now proceed, because their activities would not be consistent with the Aspiring management plan. (They would still have to apply for a concession, if the amendment had been approved.)
The requirements of the National Parks Act are that while the public is given freedom of entry and access to the national parks, this is subject to the preservation of park values and the Act states that parks shall be preserved, as far as possible in their natural state.
In addition, while commercial uses can be considered, the rights of the public as individual persons are to be protected ahead of private interests.
“The Conservation Authority is of the view that removing native plants and disturbing native animals, especially old growth forests and threatened species, so as to construct a road for the purpose of reducing the time it takes tourists to get from one tourist destination to another…is not consistent with the expectation of the Act that public use and concessionaire use will not be at the expense of the preservation of native plants and animals.” Chairman Kerry Marshall concluded..
The NZ Conservation Authority is set up to advise the Minister of Conservation and the Director-General of Conservation but it also has decision making powers in respect to conservation management strategies, and national park plans. It is a 13 member body appointed by the Minister of Conservation.