Res­i­dents op­pose rail tun­nel link

Kinder­garten raises money for Nepal

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Glenorchy and Te Anau res­i­dents op­pose a $274 mil­lion plan to build an elec­tric rail­way through a tun­nel to link Queen­stown and Mil­ford Sound.

One town does not want an in­flux of tourists, while the other does not want tourists by­pass­ing it.

MSLR has pro­posed build­ing a 15km ve­hic­u­lar drive-on-drive-off elec­tric rail­way through a 13.5km tun­nel be­tween Mil­ford Sound and Queen­stown.

It was the third such plan to short­cut the 287km road trip, with Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter Nick Smith re­ject­ing a $180 mil­lion plan by Mil­ford Dart to build a tun­nel through the Mt As­pir­ing Na­tional Park and the Fiord­land Link Ex­pe­ri­ence, a $240 mil­lion mono­rail project.

En­viro Glenorchy, for­mally know as the Stop the Tun­nel group, spokes­woman Tr­ish Fraser said she be­lieved Smith ‘‘was clear he has shut the door’’ on pro­posed plans in the area, ‘‘but ob­vi­ously not’’.

Fraser said the group would be keep­ing the eye on the project and would be ready to fight it.

In 2012 the group col­lected over 25,000 on­line signatures op­pos­ing the Mil­ford tun­nel pro­posal which were ac­cepted by the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and En­vi­ron­ment Se­lect Com­mit­tee.

Fraser said the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of the MSLR plan were un­nec­es­sary and the road from Queen­stown to Glenorchy would not be able to cope with the ex­tra traf­fic.

‘‘That [the traf­fic im­pact] would be enor­mous. The road is al­ready re­ally busy with tourists,’’ she said.

She be­lieved most of the town’s res­i­dents would ob­ject to the pro­posal, as 98 per cent were against the Mil­ford tun­nel pro­posal.

With for­eign in­vestors there were bound to be more schemes in the fu­ture, she said.

How­ever, ‘‘it doesn’t need to hap­pen . .th. I would cer­tainly be against it hap­pen­ing,’’ she said.

MSLR said it would run up to 12 train trips a day and each train would con­tain 10 sin­gle rail­road low bed wag­ons, each ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing a large tourist coach up to 12.6m and 20 tonnes in weight, and 10 regular flat bed wag­ons cater­ing for up to 30 light ve­hi­cles.

An­nu­ally, it could trans­port 700,000 pas­sen­gers, over 3000 pas­sen­gers a day.

Save Fiord­land chair­man Bill Jarvie, of Te Anau, said he be­lieved the project would have sim­i­lar en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts as the failed Mil­ford tun­nel pro­posal.

Jarvie, who said he was not out­right op­posed to devel­op­ment, said peo­ple trav­el­ling to the wilder­ness knew it took time and did not need to be rushed.

‘‘The very thing peo­ple come to this coun­try for (na­ture), they will ef­fec­tively be ru­in­ing,’’ he said.

Wakatipu Kinder­garten chil­dren Bianca Na­gal and Iris Deaker, both 4, helped plan and or­gan­ise a break­fast at kinder­garten to fundraise for the Nepal Earth­quake Ap­peal. The chil­dren all came to kinder­garten in their py­ja­mas and had ce­real and toast for break­fast. The each brought a do­na­tion and raised $107 to do­nate to the Ox­fam ap­peal fund.

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