INDEPENDENT NEWS

Eckhoff Backs Gondola Scheme

Published: Wed 25 Oct 2000 03:36 PM
ACT Conservation Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff has thrown his “full support” behind the proposed aerial gondola scheme between Queenstown and Milford.
He said the scheme would be a “major environmentally-friendly boost” to tourism in the region, and he could not understand the “bumper-sticker mentality” of conservation groups opposed to the idea.
“Groups like Forest and Bird promote the benefits of eco-tourism ventures, then throw their hands up in horror at the suggestion of a gondola through Ngai Tahu-owned land and the Caples Valley.
“They want eco-tourism without the eco,” Mr Eckhoff said.
He said “shrill protests” from lobby groups were based on emotion rather then facts when it came to the gondola scheme.
Mr Eckhoff said the large numbers of buses which presently made the tortuous journey between Queenstown and Milford, “spewed huge amounts” of diesel pollution into the air. “The gondola scheme could help elevate that.”
He said the current levels of human waste along the region’s popular tramping routes, including the Caples Valley, were appalling.
“Ducking behind the tree causes more damage to the environment on walking tracks such as the Kepler and Greenstone, than installing a properly constructed sewage system like the one that would be included in the gondola scheme terminal areas in the Caples,” Mr Eckhoff said.
He said the gondola scheme could score a “hat trick” for the region.
“It would be a boost to local business, a boost to New Zealand’s tourist industry overall, and a boost to the environment,” he said.
He said the proposed joint venture between “blue chip” tourism operator Skyline Enterprises and Ngai Tahu was to be applauded.
“Ngai Tahu has made strategic key tourism investments following its Treaty of Waitangi settlement that have helped close the gaps for their own people.
“This is another example of a Ngai Tahu partnership helping lead the charge for further development of a vital tourism industry scheme over land in the Caples Valley which they largely control.
“On the other hand is the ‘don’t touch’ brigade, arrogantly promoting their bumper sticker mentality at the expense of the property rights of people they claim to support.
“New Zealand has abused the property rights of Ngai Tahu for 150 years. It seems the environmental lobby groups wish to perpetuate that wrong,” Mr Eckhoff said.
“New Zealand desperately needs all the tourism dollars we can find.
“We also desperately need people and organisations who are prepared to invest their money to provide jobs and bring wealth to our region,” Mr Eckhoff said.
ENDS
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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