Nick says no to tunnel

July 17, 2013

Conservation Nick Smith has said no to the tunnel project proposed by Milford Dart Limited, through the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks.

I am declining this tunnel proposal because the environmental impacts are significant and beyond what is appropriate in two of New Zealand’s most spectacular National Parks and a World Heritage Area,” Dr Smith says.

The five-metre diameter, 11.3-kilometre long, one lane bus tunnel was proposed between the Dart Valley, adjacent to the Routeburn Track, through to Hollyford Valley. The $180 million project would have halved the travel time for the 420,000 visitors per year who visit Milford Sound.

“This is a significant decision and I have given it a great deal of thought and consideration. I have met the applicants, studied the major reports, sought thorough advice, visited the site, and weighed up strong views of both the supporters and opponents,” he says.

“There are three major reasons for declining this tunnel application. The first is that depositing half a million tonnes of tunnel spoil would permanently damage the natural and landscape values in Hollyford Valley. The second is the impact of the new roads and portals at each end, and particularly the impacts on visitors at the entrance to the Routeburn track. My third concern is that the engineering works and tunnel are inconsistent with the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Park Management Plans.

“I also have concerns about the economic viability and safety of this tunnel proposal. These issues are interrelated in that making a long narrow tunnel safe requires huge investment in ventilation and emergency systems. I am not satisfied that the tunnel can be safely built for a price that makes it economically viable. The risk for the Government under these circumstances is that corners are cut or the project is left half-completed with a clean-up liability for the public.

“Milford Dart Ltd late last week outlined an alternative tunnel that would be approximately two kilometres longer and which would relocate the eastern portal about three kilometres south east. This is a significantly different proposal on which I have not received any technical advice, and of which neither the public nor the hearing commissioner has had the opportunity to consider. I have determined that I have insufficient information to make a decision on this alternative.

“I appreciate my decision will be a disappointment to the applicants and their supporters. I do not in any way criticise them for their entrepreneurial spirit or ambition to ease access for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Milford Sound. This is a conservative decision in which I have decided that nature deserves the benefit of any doubt.”

When I first heard of this proposal I wondered about the safety of a tunnel built near the alpine fault line.

Safety is one of the issues the Minister took into account but he also took into account conservation values and decided, rightly I think, that these should take precedence over possible economic gains.

I am not opposed to any and all development in National Parks but think the impact of this one could not have been justified by the negative impact on the area.


Word of the day

July 17, 2013

Grimalkin – a cat, especially an old, evil-looking, female one; old woman considered to be ill-tempered.

Choice inspired by Bob Jones.


Rural round-up

July 17, 2013

Australian farmers facing tough times:

Australian farmers are doing it tough with food imports becoming cheaper because of the Australian dollar’s plunge against the greenback three years ago, just as the worst drought in living memory finally broke.

Although there’s a general election in September, Australian farmers say their plight continues to be ignored by both Government and opposition.

Hundreds of jobs have gone from the regions as food processing factories close – or they’ve slashed production, leaving growers with tonnes of rotting fruit. . .

How a 750 cow dairy farm could make $125,000 more by employing 2 extra staff – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been using a 750 cow farm (Canterbury average) as an example. I have been saying that this farm should have 5 employees + the boss, instead of the usual 3 employees + the boss.

 2 extra staff @ $35,000 each = $70,000/year extra wages
But if this farmer could:

 
  • Increase fertility by 7% = extra $32,000
  • Decrease SCC in just 5% of cows = $30,000
  • Increase pasture quality by 10% for just 31 days = $63,000
Thats adds up to an extra $125,000
 
Subtract the $70,000 in additional wages = $55,000 better off. . .

Ponding effluent proves costly for Hinds company:

A farm company has been fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Resource Management Act following problems with a travelling irrigator which resulted in severe effluent ponding on its Hinds dairy farm.

In convicting and fining Drumblade Farm Ltd and awarding costs of $2990.80, Judge PR Kellar described the offence as “comparatively serious offending.”

He noted that when an Environment Canterbury Compliance Officer made a routine monitoring visit to the property on April 17, 2012 he was informed that there had been an issue that morning with the travelling irrigator where a nozzle had come off. Inspection revealed severe liquid and solid effluent ponding on the land surface. . .

Greenlea turns 20 – Allan Barber:

Waikato based Greenlea Premier Meats turns twenty this month and considering that they have just spent twenty years in the meat industry they seem to be in remarkably good shape.

They are currently the Westpac Waikato business of the Year taking out both the large business and supreme winner categories and their two plants are basically full on both shifts all year round. This year they will process more than 200,000 cattle and in the past five years they have invested more than $45 million in their plants.

Owned by the Egan family, Greenlea is not one of the big four meat companies, but belongs instead to a group of smaller players who do not seem to share the view that the meat industry is ‘broken and dysfunctional’. Neither do they regard collaboration with farmers as an issue; in fact they get plenty of support and Greenlea’s Managing Director Tony Egan reckons this is due to mutual respect. “They see us doing our job well and give us their support. It’s as simple as that”. . .

Japanese ad gives boysenberry growers a boost:

There’s good news at last for Nelson’s boysenberry growers, with a Japanese health supplements company filming an ad campaign championing the fruit’s health properties.

John Gibb, head of Nelson-based processor and exporter Sujon, says researchers in Japan have identified boysenberries as being beneficial for eye-sight, as they contain good levels of a powerful antioxidant.

However, Mr Gibb says researchers aren’t divulging the exact science behind their health claims. . .

Free range farms – herding start-ups for collective growth – Peter Kett at sticK:

Scale, as anyone starting a business realises, is a key, if not the key to growth and success.

Even in IT-related commerce, achieving scale from a New Zealand base is pretty darn difficult.

Enter, drum-roll please, Free Range Farma startup helping startups start up and stay up.

It’s the brainchild of Linc Gasking and Josh Feast, and its goal is to help entrepreneurs grow 1,000 Kiwi startups. . .


Definitely not a charity

July 17, 2013

Greenpeace has started a billboard campaign attacking Energy Minister Simon Bridges.

This is the organisation which complained about losing its charitable status for tax purposes because it was really a political organisation.

This is the organisation which spent more on national campaigns and lifted its contribution to head office in Amsterdam after a jump in its fundraising surplus.

The group’s 2012 annual report shows it raised $5.4 million in calendar 2012, from $4.87 million a year earlier. That’s the second-best year for fund raising in at least a decade after the group raised $5.76 million in 2010. . . .

The net surplus for the year slipped to $541,094 from $549,009 as Greenpeace NZ lifted campaign spending by 5.7 percent to $1.78 million and raised its contribution to Greenpeace International by 12 percent to $2.15 million. That’s expected to fall back to $1.8 million, or around 20 percent of 2011 gross revenue. . . .

The organisation can do what it likes with the money it raises, but it can’t pretend a significant amount of its activities aren’t political rather than being largely charitable.

 


GDT TWI milk price up 4.9%

July 17, 2013

The trade weighted price of milk increased 4.9% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

That’s the third successive, and largest, increase which followed three price falls.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

 

 

gdt 17.7

 

The price of anhydrous milk fat increased 3.6%, butter was down .3%; butter milk powder was up 4.8%; cheddar increased 2.1%; rennet casein dropped 5%; skim milk powder rose 3.3% and whole milk powder, which largelyd etermines the farm gate payout was up by 7.7%.

 

 


Lowest inflation rate this century

July 17, 2013

The consumers price index (CPI) increased just 0.7 percent from the June 2012 quarter to the June 2013 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said.

“This annual increase is the lowest since 1999, and the fourth annual increase in a row below 1 percent,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

The lowest inflation rate this century is something for which we should be grateful.

And those wanting the government and/or the reserve bank to “do something” about the high value of the New Zealand dollar should note that part of the reason for low inflation is that the higher dollar makes imports less expensive.

Inflation is theft. It steals the real value of wages and savings and hits the poorest hardest.

It’s less than 30 years since inflation was near 20% and interest rates were even higher.

Turning that around wasn’t without cost but some on the left have short memories.

Their tax and spend policies could easily start taking us back there.
Low inflation and low mortgage rates give families a chance to get ahead.  www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/CPI_inflation/ConsumersPriceIndex_MRJun13qtr.aspx


Does the navy have to be based in Auckland?

July 17, 2013

The navy occupies a few hectares of prime real estate in Devnonport.

It has to be on the coast but does it have to be based in Auckland?

Would it be any less effective if it was based further south – say Napier, Wellington or what about even further south?

Picton is facing a great deal of uncertainty over its future as the best location for the South Island ferry port is debated.

If, the ferry terminal moves to Clifford Bay, Picton will lose a lot of visitors and business.

Locating the navy there would be significant compensation for the loss of the ferries.

Moving from Devonport would also free up a large number of sections in one of Auckland’s most popular suburbs which would take some pressure off the housing market.


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