No tunnel for Glenorchy
Lawyers and seasoned campaigners from the Save Manapouri campaign were standing by to launch a judicial review if the Milford-Dart bus tunnel was granted a concession to proceed.
Last Wednesday Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced that the Department of Conservation would not grant a concession, blocking the $150 million private user-pays bustunnel proposed by Milford-Dart Ltd.
Smith's announcement was greeted with elation in Glenorchy, where members and supporters of the hamlet's Stop The Tunnel group celebrated the thousands of man-hours cumulatively put into the effort to block the tunnel.
However, if Smith's decision had allowed the tunnel to move on to the next set of approvals - applying for resource consent - Stop The Tunnel was more than ready to swing into a next phase of action, chairwoman Trish Fraser reveals.
"We always knew we'd go for a judicial review but a lot of us didn't have much experience in that field so we were working closely with Save Fiordland, their old campaigners, and some lawyers who were ready to offer advice on a pro-bono or free basis," she said.
Those old campaigners included such veterans as Sir Alan Mark who effectively spearheaded the Save Manapouri campaign in the 1970s.
"I imagine we would have met with Save Fiordland, The Forest and Bird Society, the Federated Mountain Club and any other conservation groups that wanted to join in with us and devised a plan in regards to a judicial review. That would have decided on whether a single or multiple judicial reviews would have been mounted," Ms Fraser said.
Fundraising for the considerable cost of mounting a judicial review had already started. Now that Milford-Dart Ltd had signalled they would abandon the project, the funds would be donated to restoring Glenorchy's village green.
"Obviously Stop The Tunnel is winding down but we'll wait for a month to make sure there's no more action from the tunnel's backers, then have a discussion about where we go from here. We always expected Milford-Dart Ltd would come back with a judicial review and the fact they appear to have seen sense and look to be walking away is a great relief."