The Greater Tainan Government on Friday revoked a building permit awarded to a pesticide manufacturer for a new factory following a clash between the company and local residents.
Greater Tainan authorities said in a statement that Rotam Global AgroSciences Ltd’s permit to build a plant in Sinhua District (新化) was revoked because of violations of building regulations and to protect public safety.
The city appealed for calm and dialogue between Rotam, Sinhua residents and anyone else affected by the project.
Rotam produces insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, as well as plant growth regulators and nutrients.
Company chairman Lo Chang-keng (羅昌庚), a Tainan native, said he is hoping to bring 800 job opportunities and a factory with an annual output of NT$10 billion to his hometown through the project.
However, Sinhua residents are opposed to the plant because of pollution fears prompted by speculation on the Internet that China discouraged the new Rotam project after pollution problems at its existing China-based factories, leading the company to return to Taiwan.
On April 1, more than 100 residents gathered at the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony, vowing to stop the plant from opening and clashing with police and security guards.
The Tainan government said on Friday that it is dedicated to creating a good investment environment and welcomes enterprises to invest in the city, but added that it will not pursue economic development at the expense of the environment and public health.
Sinhua residents were not appeased by the city government’s response and instead launched a signature drive to demand that the investment project be dropped.
Hsu Ming-yang (許明揚), a representative of the Sinhua community development association, said the residents feel that revoking the building permit is inadequate because Rotam could apply again to build the plant at any time.
Environmental groups mobilized supporters of the signature campaign in the evening to fight the investment project.
The residents, including many high-school students, wore headbands that read: “Safeguard Sinhua,” “Safeguard our future,” and “Say no to Rotam,” and voiced their opposition to their neighborhood being polluted.
Lo said the company would not take any further action on the plant until it had fully explained the project to the public.
He said his failure to present his plans in detail at the groundbreaking ceremony resulted in misunderstandings and even defamation on the Internet and by media outlets.
He denied that the company was out of favor in China because of pollution issues, calling the Internet reports “rumors,” and said Rotam was recognized as a green and high-tech company in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, and was given a 15 percent tax break as a new high-tech enterprise.