Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taipei City killing old trees, Green Party says

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmental groups and several Taipei City councilors yesterday criticized the Taipei City Govern-ment for uprooting hundreds of large trees in preparation for the construction of a new sports complex on the site of the former Songshan Tobacco Factory.

Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), Secretary-General of the Green Party, said the city government had illegally felled hundreds of trees at the factory site and moved them to a junior high school in order to clear land for the construction.

"Of the trees they moved to the school, more than 100 trees over 50 years old have already died. The city government should not be harming the environment," Pan said.

The city government signed a contract with the Farglory Group (遠雄企業團) last year to build the 130,000 ping (429,000m2) dome complex on a build-operate-transfer basis by 2010 with a budget of more than NT$23 billion (US$695.9 million).

The complex will include a 40,000-seat indoor multi-functional sports stadium, a department store with restaurants and movie theaters, a five-star hotel with a business center and an office building.

Farglory will operate the Taipei Dome Complex for 50 years. After that, ownership and operation of the complex will revert to the city government.

Pan and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) also accused the city government of prematurely granting permission for the Farglory Group to expand its operations at the dome upon completion of the project.

Hsu said the city government should stop cutting down trees and conduct a new environmental impact assessment before deciding whether to allow the expansion of the project.

Pan said that 489 trees at the site were more than 60 years old, meaning they should be protected under Taipei City Government regulations. However, he said the city government had only listed 136 of them as "protected."

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) responded by saying the city government would move as few trees as possible, but that construction would continue.

"It is impossible for us not to move trees while preparing for construction," he said.

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