Submitted a Petition to reconsider the new route plan for Hokuriku Bullet Train on Nakaikemi-shicchi,
Due to the global acknowledgement of its significance, Nakaikemi-shicchi (Tsuruga city, Fukui prefecture) was successfully designated as an international protected wetland under Ramsar Convention in July 2012. However, the new route plan for Hokuriku Bullet Train was released in the following month, August 2012 and it will cause significant impact to the Nakaikemi-shicchi.
Currently, a expert committee to evaluate environmental impacts and a perspective of the construction was established by the operator, Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT) and they are going to conclude the assessment at the meeting held on 15th March 2015.
To avoid negative impacts on natural environment of the wetland caused by the project, at least the railroad construction within the ridgeline of the Ramsar site should be avoided because it is a catchment of surface water. Even the previous route planned at the first Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that believed to have smaller environmental impacts on animals and plants than the proved route cannot avoid the negative impacts on hydrological environments because it still passes though within the ridgeline of the Ramsar site.
Additionally, to avoid the negative impacts on natural environment of the wetland, several specific options in construction methods and railroad routes should be suggested and it is necessary to take enough time for evaluation and discussion. Having alternatives on several railroad routes has also been pointed out by an overseas expert (reference to the symposium report).
However, Joint meeting of Japanese government(without Minister of the Environment) and ruling-party regarding the implementation of bullet train was held on 14th of January, 2015 and agreed 3 years ahead of construction schedule about line passing Nakaikemi-shicchi. There is a risk that the project would proceed without enough consideration to avoid the negative impacts on Nakaikemi-shicchi with one hundred thousand years history.
Therefore, the Nature Conservation Society of Japan and NPO Wetland Nakaikemi submitted a petition to the government of Japan, JRTT and the specialist committee as following;
1) To withdraw the approved route which has large environmental impacts and change it out of the Ramsar Site.
2) To secure enough time to discuss a new route or construction methods that could avoid negative impact on natural environment of the wetland.
March 5th 2015
Mr. Yoshio Mochizuki
Minister of the Environment
Mr. Akihiro Ota
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Mr. Hiroki Ishikawa
Chief Director, Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency
Mr. Masafumi Matsui
Chair, Hokuriku shinkansen, Nakaikemi-shicchi Follow-up Environmental Survey and Investigation Committee
A Petition to Request a Change of the Railroad Construction Plan
passing though Nakaikemi-shicchi
Chair of the Board of Direstors,
The Nature Conservation Society of Japan
Chief Director, NPO Wetland Nakaikemi
Nakaikemi-shicchi (Tsuruga city, Fukui prefecture) distinguishes itself by the unique topographic feature called sac-like waste-filled valley and its rarity of world prominent 40 meters deep peat layers created over one hundred thousand years. In addition, because of the rich repository of about 3000 animal and plant species in the various water environments, it has been designated as an international protected wetland under Ramsar Convention since July 2012. However, the approval to change a route for Hokuriku Bullet Train Railroad which passes through Nakaikemi-shicchi was revealed straight after the international recognition.
This approved route could give not only irreversible negative impacts on hydrological environment in Nakaikemi-shicchi but also encouraging developments of both domestic and overseas protected wetlands. It could be a huge threat on the conservation policy in other Ramsar sites. Since then, various academic societies and citizens’ groups have submitted petitions regarding this issue. This issue has drawn lots of attentions in the society as the international symposium held in Tokyo in December 2014 and gathered participants from all over Japan.
On 16th November 2013, the operator, Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT) established an expert committee named "Additional EIA Survey and Review Committee" that aims to discuss a survey plan for the assessment and prediction of the environmental impacts by the construction. The survey has started since December 2013. At the third committee held on 7th December 2014 revealed that the environmental impacts on animals and plants by the approved route could be larger than the impacts by the previous route. The conclusion of EIA survey will be released at a committee meeting in March 2015.
In this situation, a joint meeting of the government and the ruling party on the Hokuriku Bullet Train promotion was held on 14th January 2015 and they agreed to advance the opening of Hokuriku Bullet Train three years. We are concerned the project could go forward without enough discussion and countermeasures to avoid the environmental impacts on Nakaikemi-shicchi with a hundred thousand years history because of the increase of social demands for three years ahead of schedule.
So, we request as follows:
1) Hokuriku Bullet Train railroad route should withdraw the approved route that could have larger environmental impacts and change a route out of the Ramsar Site.
If hydrological environments such as groundwater and spring water of Nakaikemi-shicchi changed, irreversible impacts on natural environment including animals and plants in the wetland could be occurred by the construction. Even using the latest scientific approach, it is difficult to determine the area of Nakaikemi-shicchi catchment including groundwater vein and to predict impacts on the hydrological environments as the prediction entails uncertainty.
To avoid the negative impact on the hydrological environments caused by the project, changing the route as far as possible from the Rasmar site is important. At least the railroad construction within the ridgeline of the Ramsar site has to be avoided because it is a catchment of surface water. The construction plan (for the bullet train railroad passing through the Ramsar site) itself erodes not only international credits of Japan but also the conservation policy on other Rasmar sites.
At the third committee meeting, they already recognized the current approved route could have larger negative impacts on animals and plants of the wetland. Moreover, because the approved route and the previous route (compared by the committee) both pass though the Rumsar site, neither route avoids the negative impacts on hydrological environments.
As reasons mentioned above, we request to withdraw the approved route that could have large negative impacts on natural environment and change a route out of the Ramsar site.
2) To secure enough time to discuss a new route and construction methods that could avoid negative impact on the wetland.
It is obligations of the contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention to preserve natural environment of internationally protected wetlands. The committee investigated natural environment only for the surrounding area of the railroad route to assess environmental impacts by the construction. To avoid negative impacts on natural environment of the wetland, several specific alternatives for construction methods and railroad routes should be suggested to evaluate properly. Fair investigation requires the assessment based on scientific research in wider area and reliable prediction as much as possible. Therefore it is necessary to take enough time for the investigation. We ask the government of Japan to recognize the meaning that Nakaikemi-shicchi designated as an international important wetland under the Ramsar Convention and secure enough time to discuss a new route and construction methods that could avoid the negative impacts on the wetland by advancing the project three years. One hundred thousand years history of the wetland cannot be sacrificed for it.