Premier pushes for faster environment protection policies

SENSITIVE SUBJECT::The frequency of delays in the designation of an area as ‘environmentally sensitive’ has long irked groups that say it benefits developers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 27, 2013 - Page 3

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) on Wednesday demanded that the process of designating “environmentally sensitive areas” be expedited, while also instructing Cabinet officials in a task force on land conservation measures to speed up their efforts, an official said yesterday.

Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) told a press conference after the three-hour meeting that Jiang had been briefed on how the land conservation issues highlighted by the documentary Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (看見台灣) have been addressed by the ad hoc task force so far.

At the meeting, Jiang demanded that the results of geological investigations in Cingjing (清境) — a mountainous area in Nantou County packed with accommodation facilities — and in the nearby Lushan (廬山) hot spring area, where landslides have occurred, be completed ahead of schedule and made public in March next year, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said.

The results of geological investigations on landslides in Taipei and on geological relics in New Taipei City (新北市) are also set to be released that month, Duh said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Geological Survey is required by the Geology Act (地質法) to determine which areas are “environmentally sensitive” so that development projects within or close to those sites are forced to meet specific guidelines that make them operate in a way that protects the area and its residents.

Delays in carrying out geological surveys and disclosing related results has long been criticized by environmental groups, which say that the government constantly bows to pressure from developers to not release the information.

Results of the geological investigations at the sites surrounding Cingjing and Lushan were originally scheduled to be publishes in 2015, Duh said.

According to the act, the ministry must prioritize investigating those areas which are prone to landslides, contain numerous geological relics, are close to active faults or where water has been pumped underground to reduce land subsidence.