New Taipei snubs environmental study in project
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- New Taipei yesterday announced that construction of the Tamsui-Taipei expressway will continue despite a court revoking its environmental impact assessment (EIA).
September 5, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday ruled to revoke the approved EIA conducted by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on June 22, 2011 for the construction of the expressway.
The New Taipei City Government said that the construction will continue and more information will be provided for the EPA's reference to allow it to propose another EIA.
EPA Minister Shen Shih-hung said that he has not received the court verdict yet, so he cannot comment on this issue.
Yeh Jiunn-horng (葉俊宏), the director-general of the EPA Comprehensive Planning Department, said that after the EPA receives the court verdict, the officials will talk to lawyers about whether an appeal should be filed or another EIA be conducted.
Environmentalists Wang Chung-ming and Tsui Tsu-hsin, who filed the appeal, said that the EPA should follow the court's instructions and not file an appeal.
Wang and Tsui said that the New Taipei Government should stop expressway construction and land expropriation and come up with another development plan for the Tamsui area that will also protect the environment.
Chang Yu-yin, the lawyer who represents the environmental protection organizations, said that the expressway will be built along the Mangrove Nature Reserve, but the expressway is less than 1 meter away from the reserve, which places the mangrove reserve at great risk.
“The verdict shows that the judge values the idea of environmental protection,” Chang said.
Some Tamsui residents, however, were not satisfied with the court's verdict.
A resident surnamed Liu said that the expressway could be the solution to the severe traffic jams during rush hours and weekends.
“I am stuck in traffic jams every day and on weekends,” Liu said, “and with this verdict, there will be no solution to this problem.”
According to New Taipei City Government, the Tamsui-Taipei expressway, which is scheduled to be finished in 2016, is a 4.7-kilometer-long expressway that will be built along the Tamsui riverbank and the Mangrove Nature Reserve and National Wetland.
Local residents filed a petition to the Cabinet's Petitions and Appeals Committee but the petition was denied. With help from environmentalists and lawyers, they filed an administrative litigation to the Taipei High Administrative Court, which led to the its decision to revoke the EIA of the expressway construction.
According to New Taipei City Government, housing prices of the Tamsui area depend on the expressway construction because more and more people are moving to or visiting the Tamsui area, causing traffic jams during rush hours and weekends. Light rail construction has begun in the Tamsui area and is expected to be completed in 2018.
Construction Could Continue: Lawyer
A lawyer said that even though the EIA is the key point to launching a construction project, as long as the development activity permission is still valid, the construction could still be carried out.
According to the lawyer, the court's verdict to revoke the EIA will cause a problem for the government in terms of the construction of the expressway, and it is up to the EPA to decide if the EIA should remain valid or to follow the court's verdict and revoke the EIA.