Controversial amendments to the Spatial Planning Act (國土計畫法) yesterday advanced to committee review, despite a united effort by opposition parties to vote them down.
Opposition lawmakers objected to a motion tendered by the Executive Yuan that would advance the amendments it proposed last month to the Internal Administration Committee for a preliminary review.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Taiwan People’s Party and the New Power Party caucuses filed a countermotion to return the bill to the Procedure Committee, which was put to a vote.
Photo: Chien Jung-feng, Taipei Times
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), who was instrumental in getting the act passed in 2015, abstained, while DPP Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) voted for the motion to be stricken down.
The motion was vetoed 58-41.
DPP caucus secretary-general Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) later said that Kao told him she mistakenly voted in favor of the motion.
Shortly after the draft amendments were unveiled, environmentalists called for them to be scrapped.
At the heart of the controversy are two proposals that would allow local governments to indefinitely postpone submitting regional spatial plans, and give the Executive Yuan the right to revise national or regional spatial plans to make way for “major construction projects.”
The proposed amendments have sparked concern that they could encourage excessive development at the cost of environmental protection.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that the Executive Yuan had not attempted to “sneak in” the draft amendments amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as some people have claimed.
The bill was submitted because an April 30 deadline for the submission of regional spatial plans by local governments is approaching, and only 10 of 18 local governments who need to turn in a plan have done so, she said.
The proposals are not meant to “let local governments who have not submitted a plan off the hook,” she said.
The caucus plans to submit its version of the amendments during a committee review and set an extended deadline for local governments to submit spatial plans, instead of allowing them to procrastinate indefinitely, she said.
It would clearly define the scope of “major construction projects” approved by the Executive Yuan, and limit them to green energy, agricultural and cultural projects, she said.
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