A discussion on the issue of sustainable land use and relevant policies was held in Taipei yesterday in the wake of a recent slew of controversies involving land expropriation.
The issues discussed included water distribution, a decline in agriculture and environmental degradation caused by unsuitable land development.
Thomas Chan (詹順貴), an attorney who has worked closely with environmental groups, told the Taiwan Thinktank-hosted forum that the main source of these problems was the lack of a clear national land-use policy, which he said leads to industrial and energy policy disorder.
Chan said that instead of the government surrendering its rights and selling land to corporate developers, a policy of integrated sustainable planning should be prioritized to protect the -environment and public land usage rights.
Greater Kaohsiung Urban Development Bureau Director--General Lu Wei-ping (盧維屏) agreed there were loopholes in current regulations as well as practical problems in the execution of these laws. One example he cited was the high cost of prosecuting long-term and short-term violators who convert high-quality farmland into factories or businesses, violations that are often welcomed by local residents because they bring job opportunities and products.
Tainan Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮), a former Construction and Planning Agency -director--general, said a national land-planning act should include an integrated land management mechanism, a clear industrial layout, a plan for environmental resources readjustment and a development index to achieve further environmental restoration.
Council for Economic Planning and Development associate researcher Michael Hu (胡以祥), meanwhile, highlighted the -unbalanced development between southern and northern Taiwan, as well as between rural and urban areas.
He said integrated transportation plans were necessary to balance regional development.
Lin said the five special municipalities should challenge the central government by forming regional alliances and strive for predominance in regional planning to improve the situation of unbalanced development.
On the issue of water distribution, Hu said the country does not need more reservoirs to solve water shortages. Rather, Hu said, the government should focus on dredging silted-up reservoirs and devising water distribution plans, such as channeling water from northern Taiwan to southern Taiwan, or building water collection ponds, he said.on ponds, he said.