Good news on Saemangeum

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Good news on Saemangeum
From: "Neville Pamment" <>
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2005 09:22:17 +1100
Not apparently the end of the matter- the govt can still appeal -  but very encouraging news fromthe Birds Korea website:
Victory for the Saemangeum wetland - 04 Feb

Seoul Administration Court rules in favor of environmental concerns

(Yeonhap News: February 4th, 2005) On February 4th, 2005, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of environmental conservation in a legal suit challenging the controversial Saemangeum Reclamation Project brought by environmental groups and local people living around the Saemangeum tidal-flats.

The court ruled that no economic benefits can be expected from the Saemangeum reclamation project because of the anticipated economic losses caused by water pollution in the proposed reclamation reservoir, and by the destruction of the tidal-flat ecosystem.

The court ruled therefore that it is necessary to cancel or change the permit to reclaim the public water area, because the environmental, ecological and economic damage to be expected from the project is huge and irreversible. They listed the following reasons to support their ruling to change or cancel the original permit: the possibility of using land reclaimed through the project for agriculture is very low; it is anticipated that the water quality in the reclamation reservoir will be too poor to use for agriculture; estimates of economic benefits to be derived from converting the existing area to agriculture are flawed; and massive damage will be caused to the tidal-flat ecosystem.

The court added that no decision has yet been made on the end-use of the land to be reclaimed, but reiterated that it cannot be used for agriculture as water in the reclamation reservoir created for that purpose will be too polluted.

The court did not rule against continuing work to reinforce the existing sea-wall, but did rule against construction of any further sea-wall required to close the remaining 2.7 Km stretch that remains open.

The massive and controversial reclamation project along the southwestern coastline of North Jeolla Province has therefore yet again run into another major hurdle due to this ruling.

Earlier, the court had tried to suggest a way forward by recommending that further research be conducted before their final ruling was made. It also recommended that the government should halt the project and set up a committee of experts to review fully the potential environmental and economic consequences of the reclamation. The court also suggested that parliament should legislate a special law to help iron out such issues. Although, environmental groups and local fishermen had welcomed these recommendations, the government and the ruling Uri Party openly rejected them on January 28th.

As the court has now ruled in favor of environmental conservation, the government will bring the case to the Seoul High Court.

(Translated by Ma Yong-Un [KFEM]; edited by Nial Moores [Birds Korea].)

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