Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Miaoli should ignore environmental rules: councilor

By Cheng Ming-hsiang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Miaoli County Councilor Han Mao-hsien speaks at the Miaoli County Council on Wednesday.

Photo: Peng Chien-li, Taipei Times

Miaoli County Councilor Han Mao-hsien (韓茂賢), an independent, on Tuesday drew ire after saying that the county should seek to skirt environmental assessments for development projects.

Han said that environmental regulations were “killing” projects, often over concerns regarding effects on the habitat of leopard cats.

“There are too many leopard cats. That is why they run onto the roads and get hit by cars,” he said.

Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) should “get away with what he could to build what he could, while avoiding whatever fines he could” to “let money flow into the county so that Miaoli could become rich,” he said.

The county government in March finalized autonomous regulations for the conservation of endangered leopard cats and forwarded them to the Miaoli County Council, which said at its 19th meeting on Tuesday that it hopes to pass them by the end of the year.

The legislation would be the first of its kind nationwide.

Han opposed the draft, saying that it is the result of undue pressure on the county government from conservationists.

The county has been spending NT$5 million (US$161,520) per year on tracking leopard cat populations, despite less-than-ideal finances, he said, adding that the money would be better spent buying new uniforms for firefighters or providing resources to animal shelters to care for stray cats and dogs.

Environmental regulations obstruct investment in the county, and waste time and resources, he said.

Helping the central government control and supervise local businesses and investors is unethical behavior by the county government, he said.

“There is no need to conform with the central government on this nonsense,” he said.

Rights advocate group Miaoli Guard said that Han’s advice to the commissioner to ignore regulations was regrettable.

He is comparable to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), as he has “not done his homework,” the group said.

Han Mao-hsien’s argument that development proposals in the county “always die when they reach the environmental assessment stage” was inaccurate, it said, adding that a high percentage of its environmental assessments pass.

“The environment is being destroyed and the money stays in the hands of a small number of people, who take it out of the county. The people of Miaoli will be left to suffer,” it said.

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