The Seoul Administration Court ruled that the government should form a committee of civilian and government experts under the President or National Assembly to measure the usage of tideland and produce a follow-up assessment on the environmental impact of the Saemangeum reclamation project at Buan of North Jeolla Province.
The Third Administrative Division (Judge Kang Young-ho) of the Seoul Administration Court ordered a recommendation on the 2001 petition on the retraction of the government project filed by environmental groups against the prime minister and the Ministry of Agriculture on January 17, and that the seawall must not be blocked until then.
This recommendation will have the effect of a set judgment if both the plaintiff (environmental groups) and defense (government) do not file a complaint within 14 days. Should one side plead against the statement, the recommendation will be nullified and the court will undergo formal proceedings on February 4 and rule on the validity of the project.
The project is expected to be stalled for a long period of time regardless of the acceptance or rejection of the recommendation, as the recommendation calls for a full-scale review of the project.
The Court asserted on the "status of the court" that by proceeding hastily with a national project such as Saemangeum, we may be guilty of creating an issue such as the second Sihwa Lake controversy, and that taking into consideration the scale and importance of the project, it is certainly not a waste of time to review the problems brought up so far.
The court added We have even recently seen instances of failure in creating freshwater lakes, but no government official is taking responsibility for these actions.
To resolve further controversy and ensure smooth proceedings, the court proposed the establishment of a special bill to the National Assembly that includes the following: usage of the tideland (farmland or industrial complexes), policies that limit the origins of water pollution, budget policies, a committee to oversee the project, and codes censuring grave oversight or false reporting.
Environmental organizations welcomed the court recommendations today, in contrast to the dissatisfaction of the Ministry of Agriculture and North Jeolla Province, putting even more attention on the final results.