The Department of Conservation (DOC) is inviting public submissions on a proposed concession to construct a Monorail through the Snowdon Forest Conservation Area.
Riverstone Holdings Limited (Riverstone) has applied to build a monorail which would run from the Mararoa River (near the Mavora Lakes Road) for approximately 29.5 km through the Snowdon Forest Stewardship Area to the Milford Road at Te Anau Downs. The monorail is part of Riverstone’s proposed visitor transport package from Queenstown to Lake Te Anau.
Before it can proceed with the plan, Riverstone requires a concession agreement from DOC along with the appropriate resource consents from local authorities. Southland Conservator Barry Hanson says DOC has carefully examined the environmental impact of the proposal on the land it manages.
“DOC has sought independent expert advice on the proposals and Riverstone has made an assessment and agreed to minimise any environmental impacts from the proposal.”
Riverstone has agreed to a range of steps to mitigate the impact of the monorail construction and is also proposing to support conservation values in the area through predator and pest control programmes.
The proposal also requires the building of a construction track, parallel to the monorail track which Riverstone proposes to open for public use as a Mountain Bike Track and ensure that public access is maintained.
Mr. Hanson says, “DOC will take into account the outcome of public consultation before taking a final decision on whether to approve the concession.”
DOC can only consider the impact of the proposal on land managed by the department and wider issues raised will be dealt with by resource consents required from the Southland District Council.
- The Department will formerly advertise it’s intention on Saturday 10 December. Public submissions on the proposal will remain open for 40 working days following that date, closing 27 February 2012, and DOC will hold public hearings to consider these submissions before reaching its final decision.
- DOC is charged with considering the proposal in terms of the land it manages and to determine whether the activity is consistent with the relevant Conservation Management Strategy. Other wider environmental issues and community concerns will be dealt with during the resource consents required from local authorities.
- The application is for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a monorail which would run from the Mararoa River (near the Mavora Lakes Road) for approximately 29.5 km through the Snowdon Forest Stewardship Area to the Milford Road at Te Anau Downs.)
- A construction track would be constructed parallel to the monorail. RHL propose this construction track would remain in use after monorail construction, for monorail maintenance and mountain biking opportunities. Where the monorail leaves public conservation land (and crosses private land to come out on the Milford Road) a separate mountain bike track will be constructed by RHL to complete the cycle track route to the Milford Road.
- Two termini buildings (and associated parking and access roads) are proposed, one on public conservation land (marginal strip) alongside the Mararoa River, the other being on public conservation land held as part Fiordland National Park at Te Anau Downs.
- Construction of the monorail and construction/mountain bike track would require the clearance of two separate linear features through the Snowdon Forest Stewardship Area, representing a total clearance of 22 ha of forest habitat and 4.35 ha of non-forest habitat, and associated effects, on public conservation land.