Thu, Nov 21, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists oppose revival of Matsu project

ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE?The project in Penghu’s Dacang Island was scrapped in 2015 as it had bypassed an EIA and public hearings — problems that it has yet to address

By Liu Yu-ching and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The abandoned Dacang Island Matsu statue project site is pictured on Tuesday in Penghu County yesterday.

Photo: Liu Yu-ching, Taipei Times

Penghu County Commissioner Lai Feng-wei’s (賴峰偉) plans to revive a Matsu statue project that was halted in 2015 have drawn the ire of an environmentalist group for “causing a rift among Penghu residents.”

Lai recently announced five possible locations for the statue and called on residents to “rally together” behind the project, which was originally planned to be the centerpiece of a tourist attraction on Dacang Island (大倉島).

The Dacang site was picked in 2011 by then-Pingtung County commissioner Wang Chien-fa (王乾發), who envisioned a 66m bronze statue of Matsu, but the project was scrapped in 2015 after it was found the planners had bypassed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and public hearings, and that it could damage Penghu’s ecosystem.

With the project suspended, the completed bronze statue has remained at a warehouse in Changhua County’s Dacun Village (大村).

Citizens of the Ocean Foundation chairman Hu Chao-an (胡昭安) yesterday criticized Lai for calling for public support on what he said was a socially divisive project.

The sites listed by Lai for consideration, in addition to the original, were the Jingueitou Fortress (金龜頭砲台) near Magong City; Longmen Village (龍門) and Siyu Township (西嶼) in the east of the county; and Shetoushan (蛇頭山).

The announcement that the project would resume has met with opposition from some county councilors, as it has yet to undergo an EIA, Hu said.

Lai said that while a final location had not yet been chosen, the county government was leaning toward Dacang, as the island has plenty of space available at a low cost and choosing the original site would mean construction could resume sooner.

Although there is no bridge to Dacang, overall it is the best choice, especially as it fits the proposed budget for the project, Lai said.

Hu said the foundation would petition the public to oppose the project if Lai persists in going ahead with it.

Engineer Yu Kuo-lin (郁國麟) said the county government’s decision to select Dacang first and then conduct an EIA was the wrong approach.

Steps such as geological surveys, which involve drilling, land rezoning and declassification of forests intended for upholding national security have not been taken, Yu said.

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