Environmental protection groups and academics yesterday called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to push for the passage of three draft acts on the use of national land, coastal areas and wetlands.
The three draft acts are the national land planning act, the coastal act and the wetlands act, the groups told a press conference at the legislature.
They said that after the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot, which triggered severe flooding and landslides in the south in August 2009, the Executive Yuan promised it would prioritize the national land planning act, but the proposal has been stalled in the legislature.
The two other proposals face the same problem, despite Ma’s promise last month when he visited Changhua’s coastal area to push for the wetlands act’s passage, they said.
Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), an associate professor in National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, said the government should seriously promote the national land planning act to support sustainable growth instead of using it as a political tool ahead of elections.
Liao outlined several problems in the current land planning system, including its failure to delineate no-development zones, the limited authority of the Construction and Planning Agency, which is in charge of land planning, and the exclusion of civic organizations in the drafting process.
Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), a professor in National Chengchi University’s Department of Land Economics, said Taiwan’s environment had become increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters, which have become more frequent, placing public lives at risk.
Hsu urged the government to take precautionary measures rather than simply thinking of how to respond after disaster strikes.
Holding pictures taken from a helicopter last year of landslides and driftwood that had washed into the ocean, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said land erosion was clearly a problem, but the government had failed to fully comprehend the extent of the problem.
“Those three proposed laws can help us identify and protect vital areas so we can hand them down to future generations,” Green Party Taiwan spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said.
“The laws should be passed with careful planning — not in the rough for electoral purposes,” he said.
Liao said the national land planning act should be more precise on land classification so that development permits will not lead to reckless environmental destruction.
The groups voiced their hope that the three acts could be approved in the current legislative session.