Minister leaves tunnel to DoC


New Conservation Minister Nick Smith has left the decision on the Milford Dart Tunnel in the hands of the Department of Conservation. 

Smith’s predecessor Kate Wilkinson delegated the determination on the mega-bucks 11.5km bus tunnel to DoC director general of operations Sue Cosford last year. 

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage reiterated her calls for the Minister to re-take responsibility for the decision in last week’s Mountain Scene. 

When Mountain Scene called the Minister’s office, the enquiry was passed to DoC. 

DoC spokesman Ruben Williams says: “The reason it has come here is the final decision at this stage is not going to rest with the Minister. It is still resting with the department.” 

Williams says the Minister can still choose to make the decision on the $170 million tunnel. 

It would cut through from Mt Aspiring National Park, at the start of the Routeburn Track near Glenorchy, to Fiordland National Park – knocking hours off the Queenstown-Milford Sound journey. 

“There is no timeframe on when a decision is going to be made,” Williams says. “It is quite an involved process and we’re working through it. 

“We’re still interacting with the applicant at this point.”