1000 sign tunnel petition

Glenorchy resident Patricia Jantien Ko has started an online petition encouraging the Department of Conservation to decline a concession application for a Fiordland tunnel by Milford Dart Ltd. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Glenorchy resident Patricia Jantien Ko has started an online petition encouraging the Department of Conservation to decline a concession application for a Fiordland tunnel by Milford Dart Ltd. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
An online petition started by a Glenorchy woman opposed to the Department of Conservation granting a concession to Milford Dart Ltd for its $150 million, 11.3km tunnel, has more than 1000 signatures - just two days after it was started.

Patricia Jantien Ko launched the "Department of Conservation, New Zealand: decline permission to Milford Dart Ltd to construct the Dart Passage Tunnel" petition on Monday, which said if Doc granted the concession to the company, Tourism New Zealand's slogan of "100% Pure" would become "a worldwide lie".

"The proposed plan violates the National Park Policy of New Zealand saying that no new roads will be built in National Parks," the summary on the petition page said.

"The World Heritage status of this region will be in jeopardy, as a commercial construction will violate the preservation and protection of special places for the benefit of all.

"It will result in the loss of many nature-caring, discerning international travellers and New Zealanders normally visiting this region," it said.

Mrs Ko said on Tuesday the idea stemmed from a conversation she had had with Doc hearings panel chairman Paul Green and assistant Chris Visser, during the submissions hearing in Queenstown last month.

When asked what she believed tourists wanted, she thought it best if Doc actually asked tourists.

"I thought it would be really good for Doc to find out what potential visitors to this region want. It's about creating a tourist facility, but no-one has actually talked to the tourists."

Further, there were many domestic tourists who did not get an opportunity to speak to their submissions, without travelling to Queenstown or Te Anau to do so and, in some cases, the "time-costly" nature of the submission process put people off, she said.

"I wanted to give them the opportunity to have a say."

The petition had been supported by many overseas residents, including people from Spain, Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Poland and Holland.

The petition will stay open for about a week, at which point Mrs Ko hopes to take it to the Doc decision maker, likely to be deputy director Sue Tucker, for consideration.

Doc media adviser Reuben Williams, of Wellington, said on Tuesday that because the formal submission process had closed, the petition would not be counted as submissions.

However, "it doesn't mean it can't be taken into account", particularly because of it being a petition.

MDL will present its response to the hearings panel tomorrow in Queenstown, following two weeks of hearings split between Queenstown and Te Anau last month.

- tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz