• Kyodo

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The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line’s planned route beyond Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, will probably be changed to avoid harming an important wetland area in Fukui Prefecture, the government-backed builder of the bullet train system said.

The Nakaikemi Wetland, known as a habitat for dragonflies, in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, is a designated site under the Ramsar Convention, which is also known as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat.

A senior official from the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency told reporters Sunday that it will start considering a new route following a proposal by a panel of experts that assessed the environmental impact of the current plan.

The agency said it will not change its plan to start the train operations in spring 2023.

It was decided earlier this year to open the extension between Kanazawa and Tsuruga three years earlier than the initial plan to start operations in spring 2026.

Bullet train services linking Tokyo and Kanazawa started Saturday.

The current plan has the tracks running about 100 meters closer to the wetland than a previous plan which was the subject of the environmental impact assessment. The panel said at a meeting Sunday in Tsuruga that the agency has to change the plan because it would cause more harm to the wetland than the previous plan.

“We want them to consider again the route where the assessment was made and reduce the influence on the environment,” Masafumi Matsui, who heads the panel, told reporters after the meeting.

After the agency conducted the assessment, it amended the route to limit the expected impact on the local community. It applied for approval of the construction plan in 2005 and received approval in 2012. There won’t have to be another environmental impact assessment if the change to the route is less than 300 meters.

According to the Environment Ministry and Fukui Prefecture, about 3,000 species of animals and plants live in the wetland. The 87-hector site, including the surrounding mountains, was designated for the list of the Ramsar Convention in 2012. The convention’s secretary-general, Christopher Briggs, visited the wetland last year and showed concerns about the impact of the shinkansen line construction.

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