Monorail decision 'coming in the next two days'

A decision on the controversial Fiordland monorail project is expected before the weekend.

Proponents and opponents of the proposed $200 million project say a decision is imminent, after Conservation Minister Nick Smith spent the past week considering an independent financial viability report on the 43km Fiordland Link Experience.

Save Fiordland chairman Bill Jarvie, of Te Anau, said yesterday a decision ''is coming in the next two days''.

''All the indications are that the minister will have only one response and that is to decline the application.

''This has been going on for two years and it shouldn't have got to first base.

''Our World Heritage obligations mean it should have been kicked into touch right from the start.''

Save Fiordland would consider its response to an unfavourable decision,'' Mr Jarvie said.

''We can't appeal the decision, only the way it was arrived at.''

The project developer, Riverstone Holdings Ltd managing director Bob Robertson, of Wanaka, said the monorail would be a model of sustainable tourism.

''We need to move people across our land with a low impact, so they can experience what real New Zealand is.

''I'm not sure we meet our promises about sustainable tourism by putting thousands of people in buses on tarmac,'' he said yesterday.

The glass-topped monorail carriages would ''gently glide through the forest at 20 to 30kmh'', Mr Robertson said.

''There would be no other experience in the world like this.''

If successful, work would start immediately on consents and fundraising and then begin in earnest in about six months.

The decision, originally expected in February, was postponed so Dr Smith could examine an independent financial viability report.

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