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Taiwan: Geology Law Adopted

(Nov. 29, 2010) Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed the Geology Law on November 16, 2010. Under the new Law, the government is required to conduct a nationwide geological survey, to publicly disclose geologically unstable areas (with the approval of a review committee), and to store geological information in a national database. The Central Geological Survey under the Ministry of Economic Affairs will maintain the database, which is to be updated every five years. The Law further prescribes that development plans for unstable areas must be subjected to an exhaustive survey process before they are reviewed by a committee of experts and government officials. Those convicted of violating the Law's prohibition against obstruction of geological surveys and inspections will be fined between NT$100,000 (about US$3,300) and NT$500,000. (Elaine Hou, Taiwan's Legislature Passes Geology Act, TAIWAN TODAY (Nov. 17, 2010),

Some sectors of Taiwan's real estate industry, however, have reportedly criticized the legislation “for not compensating landowners whose properties lose value after being named in geologically unstable areas.” (Id.) They also stated:

… with the passage of the Geology Law, land belonging to geologically unstable areas (referring to land areas that have a special geological landscape or geological environment or where the occurrence of geological disasters may be anticipated, such as geological landscapes prone to landslides or rock slides, or geological landscapes that have research value) will be publicized, and while such a step may safeguard homebuyers, it will result in a shock to the hillside residences' market. (Cheng Ying-hao, “Draft Geology Law” Passed on Third Reading [in Chinese], UNITED DAILY NEWS (Nov. 17, 2010), [translated by the author].)

The provision on announcing geologically unstable areas created such controversy that the draft law was stalled in the legislature for 14 years; the original bill actually passed a third reading in 2004, but never made its way out of the legislature. After a section of a the Formosa Freeway in northern Taiwan suffered major landslides in late April–early May 2010, resulting in several deaths, legislators renewed their efforts to pass the Law, which is based on a new draft submitted by the Executive branch. (Id.; Shelley Huang, Huge Hillside Collapses, Covers Formosa Freeway, TAIPEI TIMES (Apr. 26, 2010),; Shelley Shan, Construction Worker Dies as Another Landslide Strikes Formosa Freeway, TAIPEI TIMES (May 3, 2010),; Huang Ming-hsi, To Make Public the Geologically Sensitive Areas Public, the Geology Law Overcomes a Sensitive Issue [in Chinese] [title translated by the author], CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (Apr. 28, 2010),