Milford discussion document damned as being flawed

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2012

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An Environment Southland report ranking access options to Milford Sound was intended as a high-level discussion document that will be useful in the preparation of the Regional Land Transport Strategy, the regional transport committee was told yesterday.

A gondola between the Caples Valley and the Hollyford Valley has ranked highest out of 12 access options to Milford Sound based on social, environmental, cultural and economic wellbeing, technical issues and regional, national and international perspectives.

Environment Southland policy analyst Russell Hawkes said the report was intended to be a document to promote discussion and did not advocate one particular option.

The report was based on publicly available information only.

The Sky Trail Milford Gondola, a project initially proposed by Skyline Enterprises Ltd and Ngai Tahu in 2001 but never eventuated, topped the list of ranked options ahead of a park and ride starting in Te Anau and the Fiordland Link Monorail. The Milford Dart tunnel ranked fifth with the revived Haast-Hollyford road sitting in 10th place.

The $25,000 report has been labelled flawed and redundant by government agencies and potential developers.

Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno said information used was already outdated, resulting in a flawed document.

In the case of the Haast-Hollyford highway, Mrs Cardno said she was concerned the report was based on the original coastal route and not the new development proposal taking the inland route. The report did not provide an objective platform after Environment Southland failed to engage with neighbouring councils including the Westland District Council who were supporting the Haast-Hollyford highway, Mrs Cardno said.

"I would not be confident using it [the report] as a working document for driving development in the Southland district," she said.

The developers behind the proposed Haast-Hollyford road said despite not sighting the report it was of no concern to them.

Westland District Property Ltd chairman Durham Havill said he was not sure how the authors judged the Haast-Holyford road option if they had not used the information for the new route.

Steve Canny, Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects, said there were quite significant points of fact that were incorrect in the document that may change the way people who used the report viewed the challenges of transport to Milford Sound.

The report did not inform the debate on transport options into Milford Sound, he said. At best the report should be used as a preliminary document and never as a tool to inform strategic planning or development.

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Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms said the report provided important information ahead of the Regional Land and Transport Strategy review and was independent and robust.

"This report is a good first step to lead into our Land Transport Strategy," she said.

neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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