The Taitung County Government on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court to overrule a verdict issued by the Kaohsiung High Administrative Court in October that revoked the county’s approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the construction of the Miramar Resort Hotel in Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣), saying that the move could help to mitigate financial loss should the resort’s developer demand state compensation.
Taitung County Government Secretary-General Chen Chin-hu (陳金虎) yesterday said that it is unlikely the judges would rule in favor of the county’s approval of the EIA report, which could prompt Miramar Resort Hotel Co to file a lawsuit against the government, demanding compensation to offset the losses it suffered for the build-operate-transfer project.
Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭), who was re-elected in the nine-in-one elections on Saturday, also expressed concern over the possibility the company would demand indemnification, saying that the judicial system has negated the county government’s policies, and that the prospects of future assessments being acknowledged are bleak.
“Miramar will not tolerate a hotel complex in which it has invested more than NT$1 billion [US$32.3 million] becoming defunct. The Taitung County Government is prepared to face a lawsuit demanding state compensation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thomas Chan (詹順貴), an attorney representing county residents and environmental activists who oppose the project, said the county government should not try to use the prospect of state compensation to browbeat the public.
He said such compensation is only upheld when the court deems that a government has breached the principle of legitimate expectation, in which case the government changes or cancels its decisions, thus failing to live up to people’s expectations and causing them financial loss.
“Miramar Resort Hotel Co started this incident by bypassing EIA procedures to construct the hotel, so the fault is not entirely on the county government. The judges might not necessarily uphold a verdict holding it liable for state compensation,” Chan said.
Lin Shu-ling (林淑玲), an Amis Aborigine and Taitung resident, criticized the county’s appeal, calling it a waste of public funds.
“The county government has approved two EIA reports by the company; both were revoked by judges. It should get the judges’ messages through its head,” Lin said.
“If the county government really wishes to avoid the scenario, it should lay out clear strategies and put this issue to a public discussion,” she said.
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