Wed, Sep 29, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Activists express doubts about impact of smaller biotech park on wetlands

FOWL THEFT Writer Chang Hsiao-feng likened Academia Sinica’s plan to build the development project on the nearby 202 Arsenal to stealing your neighbor’s chickens

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Army officers accompany author Chang Hsiao-feng, front center, other activists and environmental impact assessors on an inspection tour of the proposed site of a biotechnology park in Taipei’s Nangang District yesterday.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Environmental activists yesterday expressed doubts about a government plan to halve the size of a development project for the National Biotech Park at the 202 Arsenal in the Nangang District (南港) in Taipei City, saying it would still threaten an ecosystem that was carefully preserved for decades.

Writer Chang Hsiao-feng (張曉風) yesterday urged Academia Sinica to drop its plans to construct the biotech park at the 202 Arsenal, adding that the move was a wrongful deed akin to “stealing chickens from your neighbors,” a parable she quoted from the writings of Chinese philosopher Mencius (孟子).

The 70-year-old Chinese-­language writer has been campaigning for the full abandonment of the development project to preserve wetlands in the area. Bowing down during a TV interview, Chang called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to spare the wetlands by keeping the status quo.

“What he [Mencius] said is that stealing a chicken is wrong. It is wrong even if the thief says he only steals one chicken each month,” Chang said, adding that Academia Sinica was like a thief who likes to steal chickens from its neighbor — in this case, 202 Arsenal.

“This development project is plain wrong,” she said.

Academia Sinica only chose the property of the 202 Arsenal to build the Biotech Park as a matter of convenience because the arsenal is right next to the institution, she said.

“As the nation’s top research institution, Academia Sinica owns many plots of land,” she said. “Why does it have to be this place? Can’t they build it in Linkou (林口) in Taipei County instead?”

She said that the Ministry of National Defense did not have to relocate the arsenal, as doing so would cost billions of NT dollars.

Chang toured the area with reporters, government officials and experts recruited by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA). Aside from Chang, who was on her third visit, many were first-time visitors to the arsenal, which is a military restricted zone.

The ministry said the area frequently draws wildlife, including Formosan Blue Magpies. Visitors could also see several egrets flying around the meadows and ponds, an indication that the area was a well-preserved ecosystem.

Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠) said on Monday the academic institution had made adjustments to the development plan. He said the area to be used by the project had been reduced from 9.6 hectares to 4 hectares, adding that construction would take place at the sites already used by the ministry to build factories and offices.

Under the revised plan, the total floor space for the biotech park would be reduced from the initial 247,500m² to 122,100 m². As a result, the construction costs would drop from NT$27.02 billion (US$859 million) to NT$22.28 billion.

In a briefing at the EPA yesterday, Wong shed light on why the institution had chosen this ­particular site.

“The research on the biotechnology is conducted separately by the Department of Health, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and National Science Council,” Wong said. “We can integrate the sources by placing all the facilities in one location.”

The location must be convenient for researchers, he said, adding that it would be difficult for them to carry out their work if they were far from the university, their families and their students.

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