Sat, Aug 18, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Delay in EIA as Beitou residents protest cable car plans

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) review for the Beitou Cable Car construction plan was delayed following a three-hour meeting yesterday, as several dozen environmental activists and local residents voiced opposition to the construction because it would affect local traffic and the overall environment in the area.

Taipei City’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee failed to finish the review process of the project amid strong opposition from local residents and environmentalists, who lashed out at the contractor, Richforest Co for failing to address their concerns in the EIA.

Residents expressed concerns that the cable car system will repeat the mistakes of the Maokong Gondola and become a liability in Beitou District (北投).

“The cable car system will be built on fragile ground. We are against the project for public safety reasons. Also, nobody would use the cable car as a transportation option to Yangmingshan,” said Dai Show-fen (戴秀芬), director of the Peitou Association.

Beitou resident Chang Shao-yen (張紹琰) said the contractor’s estimation that the gondola will attract 22,000 visitors per day means it would make traffic congestion in the area worse.

Chang asked the contractor to include disaster management measures in its project plan.

“Cities around the world are building cable cars to promote tourism, but nobody builds cable cars in residential areas. The contractor and investors will make money from the project, but it is local residents who are facing safety threats from the system,” he said.

The developer’s representative, Lee Chung-ho (李中和), dismissed residents’ concerns and insisted the cable car project will incorporate the rich history of Beitou and boost tourism once it is completed.

The Beitou Cable Car project is the second cable car project in Taipei after the Maokong Gondola. The proposed 4.9km cable car line is designed with four stops to run between Xinbeitou MRT Station and Yangmingshan National Park.

The budget for the build-operation-transfer (BOT) project is about NT$3.3 billion (US$102 million).

The construction license for the project was revoked in 2005 after then-vice minister of the interior Yen Wan-ching (顏萬進) and Tsai Bai-lu (蔡佰祿), then-director of Yangmingshan National Park, were charged with taking kickbacks from a developer who sought to get a construction license for the project.

Yen was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after being found guilty on corruption charges in four separate cases, including his acceptance of bribes from the developer, while Tsai was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for his involvement in the bribery scandal.

While local residents continued to voice concerns about the project, city government officials reinstated the EIA process yesterday, hoping to resume the BOT project.

Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Wu Sheng-chong (吳聖忠) said the department would again in the future gather committee members to complete the review process.

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