Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday that the development of the Central Taiwan Science Park’s Houli branch — the park’s Phase 3 — was expected to be restored legally based on a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) that was passed late last month
His pronouncement came one day after the government lost a lawsuit before the Supreme Administrative Court over the flawed EIA for the Phase 3 development.
Wu said the approval of the new EIA met the requirements of the Taipei High Administrative Court, which two months ago ordered a halt to the expansion project “until the Environmental Protection Administration [EPA] reaches a conclusion on a new EIA.”
On Tuesday, the agency’s Environmental Impact Assessment Committee gave conditional approval for the Phase 3 project to proceed.
Two of its conditions were that water consumption at the park should not exceed 57,152 tonnes a day and that the park should conduct a survey of endemic diseases in its environs.
The agency said the new EIA emphasized the “health hazard” and “public participation” criteria, which allowed the public to give their opinions as part of the EIA process.
“We therefore conclude — preliminarily — that it will be lawful to restart the project,” Wu said.
The National Science Council (NSC) is expected to issue a new development permit for the project based on the new EIA.
The committee’s approval of the new EIA has drawn strong protests from environmentalists, who have threatened to file another lawsuit with the Taipei High Administrative Court.
That court rescinded the initial EIA for the Houli project in 2008 on the grounds that it did not pass a health hazard evaluation.
Its ruling was upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court in January, and in line with that decision, the Taipei High Administrative Court issued an injunction on July 30 to suspend Phase 3.
The government stopped work on infrastructure development projects on the site after the injunction, but allowed industrial production to continue while the EPA and the science council filed an appeal against the injunction last month.
That appeal was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court on Thursday.
It said the EIA had not passed a second review or health hazard evaluation, and that if the project were to go ahead, it would cause “irreversible damage” to the environment and the health of local residents.
The Supreme Administrative Court also said the development permit for the project was invalid because it had revoked the EIA in January.
Environmental lawyer Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) said the new EIA was just as “casual and indiscreet” as the first one and had not been subject to a second phase of strict reviews.
Environmental groups are expected to file a lawsuit next week to demand that it also be revoked.
Lin San-chia (林三加), the lawyer who filed the previous suit on behalf of farmers in Houli Township (后里), Taichung County, said the judiciary has repeatedly sent out a message of “environmental justice” since the Taipei High Administrative Court rescinded the old EIA in 2008, but President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has turned a deaf ear to the message.
Calling the Executive Yuan “the source of the disaster,” Lin said legal action would be useless unless the Ma administration repented its mistakes.
Most of the public facilities and infrastructure for the Central Science Park’s Phase 3 area have already been completed and some companies, including AU Optronics Corp and Sunner Solar Co, have already begun production at the site.
June 30, 2006
The Environmental Impact Assessment Committee (EIAC) gives conditional approval for the science park’s Phase 3 development. Farmers from Taichung County’s Houli Township file a law suit and request that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Phase 3 development be revoked.
Jan. 31, 2008
The Taipei High Administrative Court revokes the findings of the EIA for the science park’s Phase 3 development project.
Nov. 10, 2009
The EIAC gives conditional approval for the science park’s Phase 4 development.
Residents of Siangsihliao in Changhua County’s Erlin Township file a lawsuit and request that the EIA for the Phase 4 development be revoked.
Taipei High Administrative Court orders a halt to the expansion projects at the science park’s Phase 4 Zone, citing an incomplete environmental impact assessment.
Taipei High Administrative Court issues an injunction to suspend the science park’s Phase 3 development project and demands all expansion activities be halted until an EIA and health risk assessments are passed.
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and National Science Council lodge appeals against the decisions on the science park’s Phase 3 and Phase 4 development projects. Premier Wu Den-yih announces construction on Phase 3 would be stopped, but that the production could still continue. AU Optronics and Sunner Solar Co continue operations.
The EPA holds an EIAC meeting to remedy the procedure. The EIAC meeting gives conditional approval for the science park’s Phase 3 development.
The Supreme Administrative Court rejects the government’s appeal against the previous ruling on the science park’s Phase 3 development project. The court rules that work at the Phase 3 Zone must remain suspended. It also revokes another ruling by the Taipei High Administrative Court that halted development in the science park’s Phase 4 Zone and instructs the lower court to reinvestigate the case.
In response, the EPA says that the EIA procedures for Phase 3 were remedied on Aug. 31 and so the injunction should be withdrawn and that the Supreme Administrative Court’s rejection of the appeal is immaterial.
Compiled by staff reporter Liu Li-jen
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