It is not often that I agree with Nick Smith, but today is one of those days.
Controversial plans for a tunnel between Queenstown and Milford Sound have been rejected by Conservation Minister Nick Smith.
Dr Smith said he was declining the application because the environmental impacts were “significant” and beyond what was appropriate in two of New Zealand’s most spectacular national parks.
Milford Dart Limited had applied for permission to build a $170 million, 11.3km, five-metre diameter, single-lane bus tunnel that would have slashed the nine-hour journey time between the tourist hotspots.
His reasons were:
He said there were three main reasons for declining the application.
The first was the need to dispose of half a million tonnes of tunnel spoil that would permanently damage the natural landscape.
The second was the impact of the new roads and portals at each end, and the effects on visitors at the entrance to the Routeburn Track.
The third was that the engineering works and tunnel were inconsistent with the national park management plans.
He was also concerned about the economic viability and safety of the tunnel proposal.
I suspect the economic viability would ultimately have tipped him over. I can just see this whole project falling over then loads of vested interests cajoling the government into funding and keeping the project going.
Now if he would just can the stupid monorail in Southland as well.