Wed, Nov 21, 2018 - Page 3 News List

2018 ELECTIONS: Two Taitung candidates sign petition on wetlands

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Jhihben Wetlands in Taitung County is pictured on Jan. 18.

Photo: Wang Hsiu-ting, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party Taitung County commissioner candidate Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) and independent candidate Huang Yu-pin (黃裕斌) have signed a petition against a solar power station that is to be built on the Jhihben Wetlands (知本溼地), environmental groups said yesterday.

BirdLife International in 2004 designated the wetlands, located along the county’s coastline, as one of the nation’s most important bird habitats and biodiversity areas under its code IBA-TW040.

However, the area is not among the nation’s protected wetlands.

Environmental groups have expressed concern that wildlife would be affected by what could be the nation’s largest solar power station on a 161 hectare plot that overlaps the wetlands.

As many typhoons strike the nation from the east, solar panels installed near the sea are more likely to be damaged, Society of Wilderness Taitung branch section chief Su Ya-ting (蘇雅婷) said.

The Society of Wilderness’ Taitung branch and the Wild Bird Society of Taitung earlier this month sent a letter to five county commissioner candidates asking if they would oppose the construction of the facility, set up an ecological conservation zone and propose a new development plan after conducting surveys of environmental conditions and consulting with local Aboriginal communities.

The wetlands are owned by Puyuma of the Katatipul community, the groups said.

Independent candidate Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞), a former county commissioner, and independent candidate Peng Chuan-kuo (彭權國) refused to sign the petition, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Rao Ching-ling (饒慶鈴) had not responded, they said.

While politicians’ promises are not always reliable, engaging them is part of the process of public discussion about a project, Su said.

Kuang said on Facebook that if elected, she would seek a balance between the environmental protection and industrial development of the wetlands and invite local Aborigines to join the decisionmaking process.

Peng last week said on Facebook that he objects to the development of energy projects on wetlands, but would not sign any petition while campaigning.

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