The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday ordered Yoho Beach Resort to stop operations and said it would fine the resort for operating illegally at the Kenting National Park in Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township (恆春).
A recent report claimed that the resort, occupying 15,750m2 of land in the national park, has been operating for 14 years without obtaining environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval. That prompted EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) to order an inspection of all development projects across the nation.
After a three-hour meeting hosted by Shen yesterday, the EPA, the Pingtung County Government and the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency, which is in charge of national park headquarters, agreed that the resort had been operating illegally.
Yeh Jiunn-horng (葉俊宏), director-general of the EPA’s Comprehensive Planning Department, said the developer applied to turn the area into “congregate housing” twice, in 1994 and 1995, before the standards for determining that the establishment of new communities needed EIA approval, so the resort could operate legally as “congregate housing.”
However, the resort had only applied to change two of its six areas into a “tourist hotel” in 1993 and obtained an operating license from the local government in 1996, when it had already finished the construction and began operation in all six areas, Yeh said.
“We determined that the developer has violated the spirit of the EIA act by splitting the whole area into small pieces of less than 1 hectare each to avoid going through the EIA process,” he said.
As a result, participants at the meeting reached a consensus that the hotel’s operating license is invalid, he said.
The EPA will also fine the resort after it finishes calculating the “illegal gains” it made during this period.
Construction and Planning Agency deputy director-general She Wun-long (許文龍) said the agency respects the decisions made by the EPA, and it will ask the local government to suspend all operations at the resort until it gains EIA approval.