Monorail business case under scrutiny

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Riverstone Holdings Ltd boss Bob Robertson is confident his monorail business case will stand up to an independent scrutiny.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced on Friday he’d asked his department to commission an independent financial viability report on the proposed $200 million Fiordland Link Experience monorail.
Smith expects to receive in February, after which he will make his decision.

“[The application is] the most significant concession ever sought on public conservation land and the longest monorail in the world”, Smith says in a statement.

If it fails, it could leave the department and taxpayer “with a half-built or under-utilised structure through public conservation land”.

Smith made public in October official advice from DoC and the hearing commissioner recommending he approve the monorail. Smith hoped to be in a position to make a decision before year’s end.

Robertson says the monorail proposal is sound.

“While the further delay in a decision on the concession is disappointing, we understand the Minister’s need to cover off all aspects of the project, Roberston, managing director of the developer, says in a statement.

“We are absolutely confident that the Fiordland Link Experience will be a world-class tourism experience that will draw tens of thousands of new tourists to New Zealand and the region.”

Robertson referred to an independent economic assessment the company had commissioned, estimating its worth more than $80 million a year to the national economy and will create more than 1000 jobs.

Smith says he’s satisfied with the advice from DoC but deciding whether the project was financially viable was beyond the expertise of the department.

“A bond can help manage these risks, but it would never be possible to completely reverse the effects of such a construction,” Smith says.

“I need an independent, robust assessment of the project’s financial viability to enable me to make a good decision.”

– Otago Daily Times