Tunnel opponents present petition

Bill English
Bill English
Three representatives from the Glenorchy community will present a petition against the Milford Dart Tunnel to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English in Wellington this morning.

Glenorchy resident and Stop the Tunnel group spokeswoman Trish Fraser said the group thought it would be more effective to present the petition, which contains 25,000 signatures, on the steps of Parliament rather than in Glenorchy or Queenstown.

"We met with Bill English in Queenstown the third of August and we were going to give him the petition then, but we had decided to come up to Wellington and he agreed," she said.

"We really want to bring the argument north."

Mr English would deliver the petition to the Clerk of the House with the hope it would be discussed at a select committee.

The trio had also opted for a formal presentation, at 10.30am today, rather than an organised protest, and the only people they had rallied in the capital were politicians.

"We're meeting with different politicians and different parties ... we want to update them and make sure they are all aware of the issue and where their party sits on the issue and where they can help us."

Having met Labour MPs previously, yesterday they met National MP Eric Roy and were due to meet members of the Green Party later in the day.

They had also hoped to meet Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

"Kate has refused to see us; we sent a letter to every politician and got a reply from the Minister's [Ms Wilkinson's] PA saying that the Minister could not see us because it was going through the Doc process.

"She was one of the main reasons we were going up [to Wellington]. We're not very impressed."

Ms Fraser said while members of Stop the Tunnel supported its Fiordland equivalent, Save Fiordland, in its efforts to stop the proposed monorail near Te Anau, the focus of the presentation today was to educate people and stop the tunnel.

"The tunnel is going to have a huge impact on Glenorchy as well as the national park ... our energy is focused on the tunnel and it's requiring enough energy just to do that."

The petition has garnered 25,000 signatures since it was created online by Glenorchy woman Patricia Ko in mid-April.

Early last month, Ms Wilkinson visited Te Anau, where she met protesters against the proposed tunnel and monorail, both of which would shorten the route to Milford Sound.

She announced her intention late last year to grant concessions for both proposals, but she has not said when a final decision will be made.