The Central Taiwan Science Park’s (CTSP) third-phase expansion project in Taichung County’s Houli Township (后里) — which has been the subject of controversy for many years — was ordered to go into its second-phase environmental impact assessment (EIA) by the EIA general assembly yesterday.
The project, located between Houli and Cising Farm (七星農場), gained conditional approval from the EIA general assembly in 2006, but local farmers appealed to the Taipei High Administrative Court, asking it to overturn the decision.
Afterward, through a series of appeals by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and local farmers, who differed on the legitimacy of the EIA conclusion, the Supreme Administrative Court finally ruled in March last year that the project should be reviewed through a second-phase EIA assessment process.
During the meeting yesterday, meeting convener and EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said the Supreme Administrative Court only recognized the EIA second-phase assessment as a legal procedure that includes public participation, so the administration suggested that the CTSP abide by the court ruling.
CTSP replied on Jan. 7 that it accepted the suggestion.
Therefore, the EIA general assembly concluded that the first-phase EIA conclusion from eight years ago should become invalid.
However, the original EIA conclusion will only become invalid when the second-phase assessment is completed, meaning that the CTSP can continue its operations based on the original conclusion, but cannot undertake any new development activities in the area.
The case marks the second time, following the case of a water diversion project between the Daan (大安) and Dajia (大甲) rivers, that a developer has been willing to conduct a second-phase assessment after its original EIA approval was ruled invalid.