12 May 2015

Govt lacks support for highway proposal

8:58 pm on 12 May 2015

The MP for West Coast says roading links aren't necessarily the answer to the economic challenges facing the region.

The proponents of the long-mooted Haast-Hollyford Highway are calling on the government to support the proposed link, along with a road linking Westport with the Tasman district and Nelson.

The West Coast region has been suffering an economic downturn due to the drop in coal prices and resulting job losses.

But West Coast-Tasman MP, Labour's Damien O'Connor, said building roads were not necessarily the answer.

He said the West Coast needed to be made a destination, not just a place to drive through.

The Prime Minister said new roading links could be beneficial to tourism on the West Coast, but there were major environmental concerns.

John Key, who is also the Tourism Minister, said a Haast-Hollyford link might increase tourist numbers.

Mr Key said the road would pass through a World Heritage Area and significant conservation land, so there would be major opposition from environmental lobbies.

Mr Key said a Westport-Tasman link might work, but he would have to look at the terrain.

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