In response to the public negative criticism on the Executive Yuan’s attempt to void of restrictions of the “Spatial Planning Act” (SPA) for national development projects through amendment as reported by the media on February 22, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) emphasizes that the present SPA amendment aims to give greater flexibility for the government to adapt to global climate change and the rapid international political and economic changes. All procedures will be opened for public participation, the publication of government information will be maintained, and “development-oriented” is not the focus.
Industrial parks are only part of national development projects
According to the MOI, national spatial planning is the top principle of national spatial development and land use. It defines zones suitable and not suitable for development, guides urban and rural development in the zones suitable for spatial development and maintains zones not suitable for development in their natural status for the orderly preservation and development of national soil.
The MOI added, instead of just industrial parks, national development projects are comprehensive, covering the development of water resources, disaster prevention, environmental protection, energy, transportation, education, long-term care, industry, and agriculture. Based on sectorial characteristics, spatial planning makes the fittest allocation of development by guiding industrial park, industrial zone, and science park projects to urban and rural development zones; agricultural development projects to agricultural development zones; disaster prevention, water resources, environmental protection, energy, or transportation projects according to the needs for disaster prevention, water resources, environmental protection, energy resource storage, or transportation, in order to assume responsibility for the country, address material situations, and avoid rigid spatial development.
Take water resources facilities for example, according to the current SPA, emerging water resources (seawater desalination and reclaimed water reuse) require about 60 hectares of land. In consideration of the trend of global climate change and the uneven distribution of domestic natural water resources, to enhance the recycling and reuse of water resources, if additional land use is required in the future, to avoid the said restrictions on national spatial planning from affecting the processing and use of reclaimed water, by amending the said SPA restrictions, water resources facilities can be approved for implementation in the future national development projects on water resources approved by the Executive Yuan. In addition, as functional zoning requirements are required in national spatial planning, water resources facilities must comply with these requirements.
Public participation and publication of government information for spatial planning continues
In the current amendment to paragraph 3, Article 15, SPA, spatial planning at all levels at may be timely revised and amended based on “national development projects approved by the Executive Yuan”. This paragraph is amended based on the above principle for the government to timely propose national development projects to cope with the future need for development of water resources, disaster prevention, environmental protection, energy, transportation, education, long-term care, industry, and agriculture. If the review and amendment of spatial plans at all levels required are required in response, timely actions can be taken. In addition, to prevent the proposition of “national development projects” from abuse to affect the stability of original planning, the amendment is applied only to “national development projects approved by the Executive Yuan”.
According to Article 12 of SPA, after a spatial plan is timely reviewed and amended, public participation procedures, such as public exhibition and public hearing, should be implemented, and the amendment shall be reviewed and approved by the spatial plan review committee of all levels. Citizens with opinions about this spatial plan may expressed them for the reference and approval.