The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday held a joint committee meeting of experts to assess the environmental impact of the construction of two beach resorts along Taitung County’s Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣).
Before the meeting, representatives from 15 civic groups protested in front of the agency’s headquarters, calling for a re-evaluation of six major construction projects planned for an area of 89 hectares at the bay, all of which have passed an environment impact assessment (EIA).
Among them is the controversial Meiliwan Resort Hotel, which is already under construction.
The rally participants said there would be a total of about 1,500 hotel rooms if all the planned projects were constructed, causing destruction to the natural environment with overcrowded resorts, just like what they are witnessing at the Meiliwan construction site.
They urged the government to rethink its development strategy for eastern Taiwan to avoid overexploitation of the coastline and a harmful impact on Aboriginals.
Both projects discussed yesterday had passed their EIAs several years ago, but according to regulations, if the developer does not begin construction within three years, they have to submit an analysis of the difference between current environmental conditions and conditions at the time permission was granted.
The developer must also submit a strategy evaluation report to the EPA for review.
During the meeting, Kuo Ching-wen (郭靜雯), a member of the Eastern Taiwan Development Alliance, said prehistoric ruins were discovered at one site and the developers should wait until official recognition of the site by the Council for Cultural Affairs before they break ground.
Moreover, she said the alliance was worried that waste water runoff from the planned resorts would pollute Shanyuan Bay, which would have a catastrophic effect on the ecology in the area, especially the rare species of corals found in the waters near the beach.
Lin Shu-ling (林淑玲), an Amis Aborigine resident of the area, said the Meiliwan Resort was not meili, or “beautiful,” at all because it has destroyed the natural environment of the beach.
The traditional territories of Aborigines must be considered, as well as communication with local residents when planning projects, Lin said.