Groups blast planned coastal rule change
By Lin Liang-sheng and Kayleigh Madjar/staff reporter, with a staff writer
Environmental campaigners yesterday slammed a proposal to downgrade the conservation status of two coastal regions, calling it a ‘back door to development’.
The proposal was put forward by the Building and Planning Agency as part of a mandatory five-year review of its Coastal Zone Management Plan, which was put in place five years ago.
In the review published Feb. 18, the agency proposes revising the criteria for classifying first- and second-order conservation areas, citing difficulty in adhering to rules preventing “the use of resources that will change the state of resources” in prime areas.
Photo: Lin Liang-sheng, Taipei Times
It specifically proposes downgrading two areas: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin habitats along the west coast and aquatic breeding grounds off Keelung’s Waimushan (外木山), which affect development plans for the Hsieh-ho Power Station (協和電廠).
The demotion would occur in stages to allow for greater flexibility and would be reinstated once a new management model is decided upon, the proposal says.
Environmental groups and New Power Party lawmaker Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) held a press conference in Taipei yesterday to protest the decision, which they see as a rollback on environmental goals.
The coastal management plan has been in effect for five years, but the agency has failed to help relocate illegal industrial sites, they said, adding that it is even now seeking to downgrade protected areas.
Tsai Ya-ying (蔡雅瀅), an attorney with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, questioned whether the proposal was legal, as the agency did not mention that other laws designate the Waimushan coast as a prime conservation area.
Coastal areas north of Changhua County are important for humpback dolphins, but the agency is now offering a key to their destruction, the chairman of the Changhua Environmental Protection Union says. , Shy Yueh-ing (施月英).
Chang Chih-an (張誌安), head of the agency’s planning division, suggested there might be a misunderstanding.
The 2015 Coastal Areas Management Act (海岸管理法) under which the plan is implemented aims to facilitate collaboration, but ultimately respects existing rules governing conservation areas, Chang said.
The Wildlife Conservation Law (野生動物保育法) also does not explicitly prohibit development in protected areas, as long as required applications are approved, he said.
However, this change is not intended to allow development or even to relax the rules, but to allow greater control, he added.
Any proposed construction or development in protected areas would be handled in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Law, said Ocean Conservation Administration Planning Division Director Lo Chin-ming (羅進明).
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