Monorail opponents hand over petition

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

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Opponents of a multimillion-dollar monorail project in Fiordland have taken their fight to stop the proposed development to the steps of Parliament.

Save Fiordland executive members Frana Cardno and Claire Maley-Shaw and Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand president Robin McNeill travelled to the Beehive yesterday to present the paper petition with 18,000 signatures to Clutha-Southland MP Bill English.

Save Fiordland chairman Bill Jarvie said signatures and pledges of support had come from throughout New Zealand and overseas and had been gathered since the monorail concession application became a public process in 2012.

The proposed route is through 30km of forest and river valleys within the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Yesterday's presentation was ahead of Conservation Minister Nick Smith's decision on whether to grant a concession to the proposal for the world's longest monorail. The decision is pending a report on the financial viability of the project.

A large number of the signatures were from international tourists visiting Te Anau and Fiordland, Mr Jarvie said.

"Once informed of the facts they have been very willing to register their disapproval."

Mr McNeill said he was speaking on behalf of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand's 17,000 members and the petition sent a strong message to the Government.

"This is a lot of people saying ‘no'. Politicians who ignore that strength of public sentiment do so at their peril," he said.

Many more people hated the idea of a monorail through the Snowdon Forest to Te Anau Downs than just the 28,000 (18,000 "hard copy" signatures and 10,000 online signatures.) who signed against it, Mr McNeill said.

If the developers really wanted to make a useful contribution to New Zealand's economy, as they claimed, they would build the monorail "between Britomart and Mangere Airport", not in a special part of a World Heritage Area, Mr McNeill said.

A spokeswoman for Dr Smith said the minister was awaiting the final viability report to inform his decision whether to give the monorail development the green light.

 

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