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Taiwan: Draft Law on National Land Planning Submitted to Cabinet

(Nov. 9, 2012) On October 30, 2012, <?Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior (MOI) approved a draft law on national land planning, which has been submitted to the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) for review, with a view to promoting sustainable development in land use. According to the MOI, due to such major events and developments as natural disasters, changing international and cross-strait economic ties, and high-speed rail construction, "spatial planning by a single agency cannot meet the needs of social development, which involves homeland security, ecological protection, resource conservation, food security, economic development and urban and rural management." (Grace Kuo, MOI Passes Draft National Land Planning Act, TAIWAN TODAY (Oct. 31, 2012); Ministry of the Interior Adopts “National Land Planning Law” Draft [in Chinese], MOI website (Oct. 30, 2012).)

The proposed legislation classifies Taiwan’s land into four zones – for conservation, marine, agricultural, and urban use. The land-use plans in each zone are to be developed at the national, city, and county levels, with public hearings and exhibitions to be required at every stage of planning, review, and implementation. Relevant information on the plans will be made readily accessible to the public. In the first two years of the law’s enforcement, the MOI will be responsible for land-use planning at the national level; thereafter local governments will be in charge of mapping out land use in their respective areas. The draft law also requires the government to budget NT$100 billion (about US$2.4 billion) for the compensation of those whose rights are adversely affected as a result of the pursuit of particular public interests. (Id.)

Legislation on a National Land Planning Law has been promoted since 1993, with five drafts submitted to the legislature for review, in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2009. In the most recent round, in May and June of 2011, of 59 articles in the eight-chapter draft, the legislature examined and approved 36, leaving 23 on which it was unable to reach consensus before the legislative term ended. According to the MOI’s Construction and Planning Agency, this reflected the need for those articles to be reviewed and revised. In the intervening months, the new draft was prepared; the text of the draft as well as an overview of its legislative history and links to the various draft texts are available on the Agency’s website. (Special Section on National Land Planning Law (Draft) [in Chinese], Construction and Planning Agency of the MOI website (Nov. 5, 2012).)

The latest version of the draft National Planning Law differs from the 2009 draft in at least one major respect. It focuses more on the feasibility of implementation, by providing for extra protection of land after its categorization under one of the four types of zone. “For example,” according to the MOI, “it will be very difficult to reclassify prime agricultural land for other uses.” (Kuo, supra.) As part of its consideration of the 2009 draft document, the legislature consulted foreign legislation on the national land-use planning, including, the laws of Germany, the United States, and Japan. The summary introduction to the referenced foreign laws also notes that South Korea and the Netherlands have also adopted national land-planning laws. (Introduction to Foreign Bills: National Land Planning Laws (Germany, United States, Japan) [in Chinese], Legislative Yuan Parliamentary Library website (Oct. 2009).)

On the same day that it approved the draft national land planning law, the MOI also approved a draft seacoast law. This proposed legislation also has a long history, having been presented to the legislature for deliberation in 1997 and then again in 2000, 2002, and 2008. The purpose in formulating the draft seacoast law is to safeguard, protect, and manage the seacoast area lands, prevent coastal disasters, and promote the nurture and utilization of coastal area natural resources, so as to complement the current shortcomings and conflicts in coastal management. The law will also establish a seacoast area management system and promote the rational use and sustainable development of the seacoast areas. According to the MOI, the draft was to be submitted to the Cabinet for review “as soon as possible.” (Ministry of the Interior Adopts “Seacoast Law” Draft [in Chinese], MOI website (Oct. 30, 2012).)

Whereas the draft seacoast law is focused on the seacoast, the “marine zones” under the draft national land planning law refer to the ocean and are divided into three categories of ocean resources: zones where ocean resources are of a precious, special, or unique nature and whose conservation must be strengthened; zones where the resources’ use is exclusive in nature; and the catch-all other necessary categories. This classification is made “in accordance with the current situation and future development needs of the interior waters and territorial sea, delimited by the conservation and utilization of marine natural resources, indigenous people’s traditional uses, special uses, and other uses, and also in the light of ocean use requirements.” (National Land Planning Bill, art. 20(2), Special Section on National Land Planning Law (Draft), supra, under (2) National Land Planning Law (Drafts) [to access text, click on Kuo t’u chi-hua fa ts’ao-an Nei-cheng Pu 101.11.05 [Nov. 5, 2012] T’ai Nei Ying tzu ti 1010810441 hao ch’en-pao Hsing-cheng Yuan].)