'Business as usual' for toll road plans

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2013

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The $220 million, 127-kilometre proposed Haast-Hollyford toll road is still "all go" despite the resignations of two big players from the company behind the plan, a remaining company boss says.

The road has been backed by Westland District Property Ltd, a subsidiary of Westland Holdings, a holding company of the Westland District Council. The project has been bankrolled by a suite of private backers.

Westland District Property chairman Graeme Purches yesterday confirmed the recent resignations of former company chief executive Bruce Smith and board member Durham Havill had not hindered scoping work on the road, which was well-advanced.

"Bruce and Durham were understandably frustrated with some of the pre-election happenings that have been going on here. Both have resigned, but its business as usual at Westland District Property and all go in regards to the proposed Haast-Hollyford road."

Until early this year, many details about the proposed road, which was first floated by West Coasters in the 1860s, were unclear. Even its likely final distance of 127km was not fully plotted until GPS technology was used on the route early this year.

A big question mark also floated above which government and district council agencies had jurisdiction over land the road could occupy. Much had been clarified in recent months, Mr Purches said.

"LINZ have clarified that all but 35km of a likely route is on land that has already been approved for a road and that 35km was a paper road up until 1977, when LINZ had a line removed off the map without going through the proper consultation process.

"They've accepted that, so we're looking at having that reinstated.

"At the same time, we're working with other parties to confirm the alignments of the road, which may be a little different to the paper road, but we're really excited at the amount and speed of progress that has happened on the project."

The project would open up a new route to Milford Sound, open up previously inaccessible land, and cut up to five hours and 355km off the existing route from Haast to Milford Sound. The current trip from Haast takes drivers through Wanaka, Queenstown and Te Anau on a 490km, 6 -hour journey.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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