The dumping of Kate Wilkinson as Conservation Minister - she
was replaced by Nick Smith last month - is not expected to
have any implications for two contentious concession
applications for commercial operations in the Fiordland and
Mt Aspiring National Parks.
In late 2011 Ms Wilkinson announced her intention to grant
concessions to both Milford Dart Ltd and Riverstone Holdings
Ltd to create the Dart Passage Tunnel and the Fiordland Link
Her announcement triggered a public process, in which 1235
submissions were received on the Dart Passage Tunnel and
another 318 people submitted on the monorail proposal.
Hearings for both projects were held separately in March and
April last year before submissions were summarised.
A recommendation was then to be prepared and forwarded to
delegated decision-maker Sue Cosford.
Department of Conservation media adviser Reuben Williams, of
Wellington, said yesterday ''at this stage'' the announcement
of Dr Smith as Conservation Minister was not expected to have
any implications for the process and it was ''business as
''We've been interacting with the applicants. No decision has
''There is no set time frame ... we are not sure when the
decision will be made.
''We are working through the process.''
MDL hopes to establish an 11.6km commercial bus tunnel
between the Routeburn valley, in Mt Aspiring National Park,
and the Hollyford Valley in the Fiordland National Park, at a
cost of about $150 million.
Riverstone proposes a catamaran trip across Lake Wakatipu to
Mt Nicholas, followed by an all-terrain vehicle trip to the
Kiwi Burn, and a 43km monorail journey to Te Anau Downs on
Lake Te Anau. Its project would cost an estimated $175