Century-old road plan still has 'great chance'

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014

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The proposed Haast-Hollyford Road is now "the last one standing" of the Fiordland big three, but organisers are still confident they might get approval.

This week Conservation Minister Nick Smith turned down a 29-kilometre monorail linking Queenstown with Te Anau.

Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd chairman Durham Havill said he still believed its road had potential for approval.

"We believe there's still a great chance of getting it through," Havill said. "It's a logical road . . . it has been thought about for over 100 years."

The monorail, the project of Riverstone Holdings, joins the Milford Dart tunnel in a list of failed projects which touted greater access to the remote Fiordland area.

The tunnel was rejected in July last year because Smith deemed it inappropriate for a World Heritage site.

However, Havill was confident there were a great many differences between the failed bids and the road.

The fact there was a paper road marking the area for roading development for more than 100 years was a huge consideration for things to swing in their favour, he said.

The Haast Hollyford road also had the benefit of public and council support, he said. "We're the last ones standing."

Progress on the project had been stymied in the meantime because of a paperwork wrangle with Land Information New Zealand.

The issue was that a section of the paper road had been removed from the map without going through a proper consultation process, he said.

They hoped to get the issue resolved fairly quickly.

"We can't muck around forever. We want to see this road come to fruition."

Fellow Haast Hollyford road champion Merv Halliday, of Te Anau, said the road and monorail project were "two completely separate issues".

"We have purposely kept out of that debate. They are two totally different issues and there's no correlation between them."

He said the road had to be judged on its own merits, not compared with any other project, and it would bring a great deal of benefits to the Te Anau, Southland, and West Coast areas.

The proposed 127km road would open up a new route to Milford Sound, open up previously inaccessible land, and cut about five hours and 355km off the existing route from Haast to Milford Sound.

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