Report on Milford damned as flawed

A report commissioned by Environment Southland considering access options to Milford Sound is flawed and of no use, Southland Mayor Frana Cardno says.

The report used publicly available information and considered 12 proposals to access the tourist destination, regardless of whether they were active or inactive.

The Sky Trail Gondola, first proposed in 2001 and no longer active, scored the highest of the 12 options against criteria such as overall tourist experience and long- and short-term impacts on the environment, with the controversial Fiordland Link Monorail and Milford Dart Tunnel coming in third and fifth respectively.

Ms. Cardno said the report was ''misleading and inappropriate'' because not all information used was up to date.

''Something as important as this should have gone through something far more robust and been put out there for public opinion.''

The report lacked detail and input from key stakeholders such as the Southland District Council and surrounding councils, she said.

''I think if you're going to do this, it's got to be more in-depth.''

Environment Southland policy and planning manager Ken Swinney earlier told the Otago Daily Times the report was to inform Environment Southland's transport strategy.

Ms.Cardno said despite that, regional and district councils worked together on such issues.

''We are all part of that [access to Milford Sound].''

Milford Dart Tunnel director Michael Sleigh claimed the report did not have any credibility since it was funded by Venture Southland and reviewed by Venture Southland, ''who were opposed to Milford Dart''.

''I would be pretty cross if I was a Southland ratepayer; if I'd been funding this report [which will] really only potentially benefit a few Te Anau businesspeople,'' Mr Sleigh said.

He was not surprised by the fifth ranking of the Milford Dart Tunnel option ''because of the people who prepared it''.

''If it were done on a much more credible basis, by independent people, the result would undoubtedly be different.''

A spokesman from Riverstone Holdings Ltd, the proponents behind the Fiordland Link Experience, said the company could not comment until it had read and understood the report.