Renewed plans to build a 160km Hollyford-Haast highway
through the Fiordland National Park will not stack up either
environmentally or economically, Forest and Bird maintains.
The Westland District Council's property company says it has
a "memorandum of understanding" with overseas financiers for
the $220 million needed to build the road and suggests a toll
of $20 per head would apply each way.
But Forest and Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell yesterday
told the Otago Daily Times he believed there would not be a
sufficient level of traffic to make the toll road viable for
"There's no way that any serious backer would actually fund
such a thing. I think the numbers will never stack up."
Mr Hackwell said he had yet to see the figures, but estimated
it would take 200,000 cars annually just to provide an
investor with a 5% return, even without allowing for the
inevitably high cost of maintenance.
"When you do the simple maths, there's no way in hell that
road will ever pay for itself."
Westland Property Ltd chairman Durham Havill yesterday said
the company had signed the memorandum of understanding with a
New Zealand contractor and overseas investors. The memorandum
document was confidential at this stage.
Mr Havill said the company was seeking non-financial backing
from the Government and from local people who would benefit
from the road before applying for resource consent.
He believed motorists would be willing to pay a toll of
"around $20 per head" to substantially reduce the travelling
time between the West Coast, Milford Sound and Te Anau.
"And of course you are seeing something new: a new road, new
Mr Havill believed the new road would be positive for the
whole South Island tourist industry, especially the Te Anau
area and the West Coast.
"When you are talking 100-odd buses into Milford a day, if we
could flush 30 up our side [West Coast] that would probably
at least double our tourist numbers."
Mr Hackwell said the area a road would pass through was an
important wilderness area.
"It has real value being an isolated place and there are real
issues around the environmental impacts."