Tourism projects `environmental vandalism'

The government is being warned against committing "environmental vandalism" by giving the go-ahead for two controversial tourism projects in national parks.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith said on Sunday he was taking responsibility for the projects - an 11.3km tunnel to link the Routeburn and Hollyford roads in Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks and a monorail and all-terrain vehicle track to improve access to the scenic Milford Sound.

NZ First's conservation spokesman Andrew Williams says the projects could threaten the pristine world heritage environment in Fiordland.

"Many people come to New Zealand to see our world famous scenic wonders, not to travel on buses for many kilometres under maintain ranges," he said on Monday.

Dr Smith says there's a high threshold for projects in national parks but New Zealand also needs jobs and economic development.

He expects to receive Department of Conservation reports on the projects in the next few months.

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