- Posted April 28, 2014 by
Sanyi Bypass called into question – Case returned for further review
【By Wen-Ling Huang-Taipei,Taiwan】On the afternoon of April 16, hundreds of citizens gathered in front of the Environmental Protection Agency to protest over the Sanyi Bypass development project, which they say will hasten the extinction of Taiwan’s leopard cats. Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) said that the narrowest sections of Provincial Highway No. 13 were only 10 meters wide and that the new bypass would alleviate holiday traffic congestion. The EPA asked that a replacement proposal be considered and returned the case for further review.
In 2002, the Directorate General of Highways (MOTC) proposed ‘Sanyi Provincial Highway No. 13 Bypass,’ and in the following year received conditional EPA approval; the start of construction work, however, was postponed for years. According to Article 16-1 of EPA law: “Developments must provide an EPA analysis of the current situation and safety countermeasures three years prior to the commencement of work.”
At the first environmental assessment meeting convened in 2011, EPA board member Pei-Fen Lee (李培芬) pointed out that according to a report at NPUST’s Wildlife Conservation Research Institute by Professor Kurtis Pei (裴家騏), the Sanyi Bypass would slice through the habitat of leopard cats. However, as there was no mention of this information at the environmental impact assessment meeting, she asked that the proposal be reinvestigated - this was the first time that Sanyi Bypass took notice of the leopard cat issue.
EPA board member Hsueh-Wen Chang (張學文) pointed out that in a 10-year study of leopard cats by electoral candidate Chen Mei-ting (陳美汀) Ph.D., from NPUST’s Wildlife Conservation Research Institute, of thirteen cameras placed in areas around Miaoli, seven had recorded traces of leopard cats, and six of those were located in Sanyi.
According to officials responsible for the proposed development project, 60% of the Sanyi Bypass is composed of either elevated sections or tunnels, and incorporates culverts as well as embankments. They hope that the design will coax leopard cats to follow embankments and find culverts, thereby safely crossing the road and avoiding a sorry fate beneath the wheels of oncoming traffic. Opponents of the project, however, believe that such thinking is a baseless fallacy, similar to the statement "White dolphin’s will turn,” by Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) regarding a Kuokuang Petrochemical development project.
Miaoli Biological Society chairman Hung Wei-feng (洪維鋒) indicated that officials from the development project cited precipitation data from 2002, with maximum daily rainfall of 114mm. However, as a result of climate change, Typhoon Morakot saw 290mm fall in a single day, and in 2012, Typhoon Saola dumped 390mm of rainfall in a single day. The proposed Sanyi Bypass route will cut through HuoYen Mountain, loosening the soil structure, and raising the possibility of landslides following erosion by heavy rainfall.
Sanyi residents have similar misgivings about the project. They indicated that with the area’s low-lying topography, Sanyi roads are already liable to flooding and small-scale landslides. Should the Sanyi Bypass go ahead, landslides are bound to become more serious.
Taiwanese legislative member Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) indicated that should the Sanyi Bypass circumvent Mudiao Road, tourists entering Sanyi will force their way in from the main road, and that the project will have little effect on traffic congestion. Due to huge doubts regarding the necessity or feasibility of the Sanyi Bypass, the project should be returned to EIA specialists for further review.