Anti-tunnel lobby told to stir NZ conscience
Labour conservation MP Ruth Dyson yesterday urged campaigners to aim for national traction in their opposition to the proposed $150 million Milford Dart bus tunnel.
Ms Dyson and Labour MP Trevor Mallard paid a visit to Glenorchy yesterday and spent time at the proposed entrance to the tunnel in the Routeburn Valley.
Plans for an 11.3-kilometre bus tunnel connecting the Routeburn and Hollyford valleys were first unveiled in 2005 by the Christchurch-based firm.
Protesters are ranged against the tunnel plan and a separate bid to build a $175m monorail to Te Anau Downs from near the Mavora Lakes road.
The Conservation Department is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to approve the proposals.
Ms Dyson said the Glenorchy-led protest, in which residents spearheaded a 27,000-signature petition presented to MPs in August, should be a nationwide conservation campaign.
"I feel very strongly about a group of local people fighting what is an enormous battle."
She said conservation minister Kate Wilkinson was not taking her advocacy role seriously by delegating final decision-making to department officials.
"You [Stop the Tunnel] should have the support of the whole country.
"I don't think they should have got approval in principle but now it's on that path we need to do everything to get it off this path."
With the tunnel proposal and the monorail the department had breached general policy and management plans for Mt Aspiring and Fiordland national parks.
The Stop the Tunnel group and its equivalent across The Divide, Save Fiordland, are also gearing up for the possibility of lodging a judicial review, depending on the tunnel decision.
A Wellington lawyer has offered to help pro bono and Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand pledged $15,000 if a review were necessary.
Save Fiordland member Bill Jarvie said the protesters were in the right.
About 50 people turned for the meeting in Glenorchy yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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