Boat trip ambitions to go before hearing

The 44m Fiordland Navigator was 
launched from Bluff in 2001.
The 44m Fiordland Navigator was launched from Bluff in 2001. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A consent hearing next month will centre on the balance between tourism operators’ impacts on the Fiordland environment and commercial interests.

Real Journeys Ltd has applied to the regional council to renew its coastal permit.

This allows it to operate the 44m Fiordland Navigator, two tender vessels and up to 30 kayaks for day trips and backcountry trip activities in Fiordland, including Doubtful Sound.

The tourism heavyweight has also sought to alter where it takes some backcountry trips.

In a report for the hearing, Environment Southland consents officer George Gericke

outlined what has been sought .

He considered that most changes would only have a minor impact on various values.

However, he stressed the proposed change

would mean an over-allocation of discretionary day trips and backcountry trips within the Doubtful Sound complex under the operative Regional Coastal Plan for Southland 2013.

He stated this allocation of trips from all operators had been exceeded already.

The requested increase of backcountry trips was in First Arm from 12 to 31 times each calendar month.

This would mean an average of 2.3 trips a day would jump to 2.9 trips a day in that area.

Another concern was the potential impact on values including wilderness and remoteness.

In its application, Real Journeys provided written approval from Te Ao Marama Incorporated, the Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Marine Guardians.

Only one person submitted when the application was publicly notified.

The submission was in opposition and asked for the application to be refused.

Bill Chisholm, of Chisholm Associates, cited reasons including the visual impact.

"The coastal plan places strict limits on the nature and extent of commercial activities in Doubtful Sound.

"The applicant seeks to circumvent these restrictions with scant justification, through a process which is essentially unfair."

The Chisholm Associates website states it provides environmental services, including preparing environmental impact assessments and managing resource consent applications and compliance.

While Real Journeys requested a consent term of 25 years, a term of 12 years was recommended.

It was also recommended to not increase the number of trips in First Arm.

The hearing was set for the end of January.


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