Hundreds of residents of Wanbao Borough (灣寶) staged a protest in front of the Houlong Township (後龍) office yesterday, accusing the Miaoli County Government of leaving them out of discussions on plans to turn their farmland into a science park.
The proposal failed to pass the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) environmental impact assessment (EIA) last month, but the county government has not given up the plan to build the science park, Wanbao Borough chief Hsieh Hsiu-yi (謝修鎰) said.
The county government plans to hold an “internal meeting” with the EPA on the matter on Friday, he said.
Prior to meeting with the EPA, the county government held a forum yesterday to explain the proposal to local landowners, Hsieh said.
“Landowners in the county's Zaociao Township (造橋) all received notice about the meeting, but we in Wanbao, who together own more than 150 hectares — more than 80 percent of all privately owned land in the proposed science park — did not,” Hsieh said.
Hsieh said Wanbao residents suspected they had been deliberately left out of the process.
He said that residents and environmentalists were against the development because it would spoil a large stretch of quality farmland and endanger rare species.
Since the 1970s, agricultural land in the area has been rated “superior” by the Council of Agriculture, he said.
If factories were constructed in the area, the water and soil nearby would be contaminated, putting the health of humans and livestock at risk, he said.
Hou Shu-fang (侯淑芳), section chief of public relations, rebutted claims that the county government did not notify residents.
“In the meeting today, Wanbao residents showed up,” the official said.
The notifications were sent out by the developer, Hou said, adding that the county government had run ads about the meeting on local TV over the past few days.
“If some of the residents say they were not notified, we will go and talk to the developer about this matter,” she said.