Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Activists condemn new highway on pristine coastline

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmentalists yesterday called for protection of the Langqiao Beinan Historic Trail (琅嶠卑南古道) on the Hengchun Peninsula (恆春半島), Pingtung County, against a plan to build a new road link.

"Why does the government have to build a provincial highway ... that damages the 12km historic trail?" activist Chou Sheng-shin (周聖心) asked.

"The purpose of building this highway is simply to complete what the transportation officials call an `around-the-island road network,' but the construction will severely damage beautiful coastal scenery," she said.

The trail should be categorized as a national environment asset by the Council of Cultural Affairs, she said.

Otherwise, construction could begin at any time, she added.

At a press conference held yesterday, environmentalists listed 10 reasons why the highway should not be built.

Opening the highway is expected to bring in almost 5 million additional tourists a year to the area. The surge in visitors would destroy wildlife habitats, Chou said.

Activists also pointed out that the Directorate General of Highways has not completed an environmental variation analysis for the project, and had changed the highway's alignment since it passed an initial environmental assessment report.

By law, the directorate cannot continue with the construction before the procedure is finished, they said.

Huang Kai-ping (黃開平), chief of the directorate's planning section, told the Taipei Times that an environmental variation analysis for the changed alignment had been completed and submitted to the Environmental Protection Administration for final review.

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