Former PM gives support

21:29, Nov 19 2012
Helen Clark
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Opponents of two multi-million dollar developments in Fiordland have received the backing of a high profile United Nations member.

United Nations development programme administrator Helen Clark met with representatives of the Save Fiordland group from Te Anau and Glenorchy's Stop the Tunnel group in Dunedin during her visit to the South Island last week.

The groups are opposing private developers seeking concessions from the Department of Conservation to drive a road tunnel between Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, and a monorail from Queenstown to Te Anau Downs across Snowdon Forest Park.

Save Fiordland chairwoman Daphne Taylor said the former New Zealand Prime Minister expressed concern about the threat to the outstanding natural values of the regions that would be affected and which have World Heritage status, and asked the groups to keep her apprised of further developments regarding the tunnel and the monorail proposals.

Having Ms Clark's support was a wonderful coup for the groups, Mrs Taylor said.

''As a UN member she will be able to help liaise with UNESCO and as a former Prime Minister and Conservation Minister she knows the processes involved with the concession applications,'' she said.

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''She is also a kiwi who uses the conservation estate for recreation.''

Ms Clark had been to Fiordland many times and had walked the Routeburn and Hollyford tracks, Mrs Taylor said.

''She has promised a statement of support for the campaign opposing the projects should DOC grant a concession to either of the proposals,'' she said.

In a statement released by Save Fiordland, Ms Clark said she did not want to see the Routeburn and Hollyford tracks coming out at a tunnel portal.

DOC spokesman Rory Newsam said a decision to grant concession for the developments was still some way off. 

The Southland Times