Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Legislature urged to protect land

LICENSE TO DESTROY?Activists say several of the proposals before the legislature would allow firms to seize public land and hurt the environment

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Environmental activists demonstrate outside the legislature in Taipei yesterday against development projects they say are damaging the environment. The image of Sun Yat-sen on the oversized bank note is saying “Did I ask you to sell off national land to anyone?”

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Environmental activists yesterday called on legislators to remove all proposed legislation that would lift restrictions on the development of private and public property nationwide.

Representatives of several environmental groups gathered in front of the legislature to press their demands.

They said that since the legislature passed the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) in 2000, many legislators have proposed implementing similar laws to develop land in Aboriginal areas, as well as along the east coast and in agricultural areas in Yunlin and Chiayi counties under the banner of development, construction and sustainability.

The protesters said the legislative process was not rigorous enough and that negotiations tended to be held behind closed doors.

If implemented, the proposals would damage the environment and state coffers, they said.

Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the acts essentially legitimized stealing land from people and local governments and giving them to corporations.

Mercy on the Earth founder Lee Ken-cheng (李根政) said 87.5 percent of the land on the east coast was public, adding that the acts would allow corporations to seize that real estate.

“We will no longer have the beautiful coastline on the east coast and Aborigines will lose their right to live on that land,” Lee said.

Activists said some of the articles in the Offshore Islands Development Act and three draft acts were “outrageous.”

One amendment to Article 8 of the Offshore Islands Development Act proposed by Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU) Legislator Lin Pin-kuan (林炳坤) would allow operators in the tourism industry to apply to develop coastal areas on public land.

Activists said the amendment would open the door for hotels to have exclusive access to coastal areas, because they would not be subjected to restrictions in the Land Act (土地法) and the National Property Act (國有財產法).

Although three legislators have proposed different versions of the draft act for land development in tribal areas, the activists singled out the one proposed by NPSU Legislator May Chin (高金素梅), which would authorize the Council of Indigenous Peoples to review changes in land use.

Zoning regulations that govern land use in urban areas, as well as other regulations, would not apply to such land, the environmentalists said.

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