Go to contents

[Editorial] Can the Troubled Greenbelt Development Be Stopped?

[Editorial] Can the Troubled Greenbelt Development Be Stopped?

Posted September. 01, 2001 09:16,   


The Ministry of Construction and Transportation`s announcement of the arbitration plan for the restricted development area (Greenbelt) is the final one in a series of proposals, but the strong opposition from those involved foreshadows formidable troubles before reaching the final decision. Environmentalist organizations are protesting because `not enough land has been set aside which will increase environmental damage and development problems`, while district residents and representatives of landowners are saying, `it breaks the presidential election promise`.

Even after three years of negotiations, it is too much to satisfy the two conflicting interests of environmental protection and property use. Local land developer organizations involved in regional development are forcefully making their requests. Moreover, the interests of landowners who bore restrictions on property use are on the line. If the method and reasoning behind the proposal are not fair and clear, it will not survive the opposition of the interested parties.

The fact that districts to be released only reach a single-digit ratio reflects the influence of the widely-supported environmentalist position that seeks to prevent excessive city expansion and uphold the greenbelt structure that aims to preserve the environment. Yet, the problem of social equality still remains – how to improve the living conditions of residents who live in small communities which have been excluded from released districts.

Although the proposal says that its priority is in resolving the civil appeals rather than providing city sites, the amount of land space available for development is 70, 000, 000 pyong out of the total 1 million pyong. On the issue of the available land space, the local development organization`s development plans must be thoroughly examined and a plan must be proposed for releasing the land in stages. We must avoid stepping on the path to relaxing regulations on agricultural and forest lands by releasing land without precautionary measures.

With next year`s elections ahead, the land owners and local government organizations are predicted to form a unified front to undermine the proposal. It remains a question whether the administration will be able to ward of the pressure.

Districts such as Kyonkido and others are expressing dissatisfaction with the proposal by requesting more lands to be released. Dissolving the greenbelt and inviting overcrowding and destruction of the woods around the Capital is undesirable. The released regions should proceed in the direction of public development and prevent the landowners to exclusively profit from the development.

The amount of released areas through this most recent measure is 7.8 percent, but with the seven regional cities released in 1999, 26.85 percent of the greenbelt has been released. We cannot follow the collapse of the Japanese capital greenbelt after making incremental concessions to political interests. We must prevent any more eating away of the greenbelt.