Riverstone Holdings Ltd managing director Bob Robertson
is confident the proposed $200 million Fiordland monorail will
stand up to an independent report on its financial viability.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced yesterday he had
asked the Department of Conservation to commission an
independent financial viability report which he expected to
receive in February, after which he would make his decision.
In a statement, Dr Smith said the monorail was ''the most
significant concession ever sought on public conservation
land and the longest monorail in the world'' and, if it
failed, it could leave the department and taxpayer ''with a
half-built or under-utilised structure through public
Dr Smith made public in October official advice from Doc and
the hearing commissioner recommending he approve the monorail
and he said he hoped to ''be in a position to make a decision
before year's end''. Mr Robertson said in a statement
yesterday the monorail proposal was sound.
''While the further delay in a decision on the concession
is disappointing, we understand the minister's need to cover
off all aspects of the project.''
''We are absolutely confident that the Fiordland Link
Experience will be a world-class tourism experience that will
draw tens of thousands of new tourists to New Zealand and the
He referred to an independent economic assessment the company
had commissioned and which was released last week which said
the Fiordland Link Experience would be worth more than $80
million a year to the national economy and create more than
Dr Smith said he was satisfied with the advice from Doc but
deciding whether the project was financially viable was
beyond the expertise of the department.
''A bond can help manage these risks, but it would never be
possible to completely reverse the effects of such a
construction. I need an independent, robust assessment of the
project's financial viability to enable me to make a good