Public hearings for the Milford Dart Limited (MDL) Dart Passage tunnel concession application will begin next week.

Date:  09 March 2012

Public hearings for the Milford Dart Limited (MDL) Dart Passage tunnel concession application will begin next week.

Hearings in Te Anau will begin on Monday 12 March and will begin in Queenstown on the following Monday 19 March. 

“Hearings are the next step in the process. They are an opportunity to be heard for those who have submitted and expressed interest in presenting their submissions to the Representative of the Director General of Conservation”, said Department of Conservation (DOC) Southland Conservator Barry Hanson.

Submissions closed on Monday 20 February 2012 with a total of 1,260 submissions being received since the intention to grant subject to a public consultation process was notified in November last year.

400 submissions are in support of the intention to grant the concession, 859 oppose the intention to grant and one submission is neutral on the proposal. 212 submitters have requested to be heard.

The Hearing Chair will be Paul Green, acting as the representative of the Director General of Conservation. Once hearings have been concluded, the Hearing Chair will prepare a summary of all submissions received for the Minister of Conservation. The Minister of Conservation will consider the matters which can be considered under the Conservation Act process raised by the public and will make a decision on the application accordingly.

Before it can proceed with the plan, MDL will also require appropriate resource consents from local authorities. Local and territorial authorities will run their own consent processes to assess the proposal against the Resource Management Act.

See Intention to grant concession - Dart passage tunnel, Milford Dart Ltd for full details of the concession application.

Background information

  • Milford Dart Limited (MDL) has applied to build a single-lane commercial coach tunnel under sections of the two National Parks - Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. The tunnel will link existing public roads in the Routeburn and Hollyford valleys and is designed to halve the current nine hour return journey for commercial tourist buses travelling between Queenstown and Milford Sound.
  • The proposal requires the construction of about 150 metres of new road in the Mt Aspiring National Park and an 11.3 kilometre tunnel under the Humboldt and Ailsa Ranges.
  • DOC originally notified the application on 12 November 2011 for the minimum 40 working day period set out in the Conservation Act with submissions closing on 27 January 2012. However the deadline was extended by 15 working days to Monday 20 February due to a high level of public interest and the sheer volume and complexity of information accompanying the application requiring more time to understand the issues and draft submissions
  • DOC initially examined the environmental impact of the proposal on the land it manages, along with independent expert advice and MDL’s agreement to minimise any environmental impacts from the proposal. DOC formed the preliminary view that, with appropriate conditions the impacts of the proposal are acceptable. However the outcome of public consultation will be taken into account before taking a final decision on whether to approve the concession.

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Reuben Williams
Ph: +64 4 471 3139 or 027 257 2216

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