Miramar resort EIA approved, sparking anger

DIVIDED IT STANDS::The EIA meeting drew protests from both sides of the issue and those opposing the resort say the meeting was illegal, flawed and invalid

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 1

The controversial construction of Miramar Resort Village at Taitung County’s Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣) gained conditional approval from a seventh Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) meeting yesterday, despite heated debate over the legitimacy of the project and the EIA meeting.

The joint build-operate-transfer project by the developer and the county government began construction in 2004.

The main building was built on a less than 1 hectare area by the beach, to avoid the EIA required for construction projects on land of more than 1 hectares.

The project later gained conditional approval from an EIA meeting at the local government for a total area of 6 hectares in 2008.

The project has sparked protests and lawsuits by environmentalists and local residents, and the Supreme Administrative Court in January made a final verdict ruling the project’s EIA conclusion invalid.

It reached another final verdict in September ordering the project to stop construction.

However, the Taitung County Government and the developer insisted the project was still legal and that it only needed to redo the EIA process and gain approval to proceed with its construction and operation plans.

Yesterday’s EIA meeting was held at the Taitung County Government, with hundreds of proponents and opponents of the project gathered outside the meeting venue.

Holding banners and calling on the protesters not to interfere with the meeting, local supporters and the Taitung Tourism Association shouted that the hotel would bring job opportunities.

Also holding up banners, people against the project questioned the legitimacy of redoing an EIA, saying it should be based on “precautionary principles” when the damage from the construction had already been done and that the EIA committee members were mostly from environmental engineering backgrounds, lacking expertise in the marine ecology, social and cultural aspects of the issue.

Meanwhile, more than 100 police were deployed outside the venue to prevent clashes between the different groups.

Police dragged several protesters along the ground or held them back with force to prevent them from entering the meeting.

The meeting convener — Taitung County Environmental Protection Bureau director Huang Ming-en (黃明恩) — led the committee members to another room for final discussions and refused to allow the media to enter the venue.

Following a closed-door meeting that lasted about half an hour, Huang announced that the project had been conditionally approved. Details of the conditions were not explained.

Shouting: “Illegal EIA meeting with invalid conclusion,” protesters said the EIA meeting yesterday was illegal and flawed and that as such, the meeting’s conclusion may be ruled invalid in court in the future.