Sat, Apr 02, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Ecologists cheer Miramar ruling

OVERDEVELOPMENT:Environmentalists urged the Taitung County Government to accept the verdict, remove illegal structures and work on restoring the beach

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Environmental advocates yesterday cheered the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling that the Taitung County Government should revoke its approval of an environmental report on Miramar Resort Hotel that would have paved the way for resumption of work on the controversial project at Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣).

The court on Thursday upheld a ruling by the Kaohsiung High Administrative Court in October 2014 that invalidated the county government’s approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the hotel, citing procedural flaws in the review process, including conflict of interest for some members of the EIA committee.

The verdict is final and cannot be appealed.

The construction project dates to 2004, when the county government signed a build-operate-transfer contract with the developer to build a 6-hectare hotel complex on the beach. Construction began in 2005 without an EIA review.

A “makeup” EIA review was conditionally passed in 2008, which the Kaohsiung High Administrative Court revoked the following year, a ruling that the Supreme Administrative Court upheld in 2012.

The county government launched another EIA review and granted another approval to the developer in 2012, but the Supreme Administrative Court revoked it again on Wednesday.

Environmental groups said they hope the Miramar resort would be the last illegal development on the nation’s east coast, urging the county government to accept the verdict and remove illegal structures.

The county government should not distort the court’s ruling and the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) as it has done, Citizen of the Earth’s Hualien and Taitung offices director Tsai Chung-yueh (蔡中岳) said, adding that the county should restore the beach to its original condition and reassess local development according to the newly legislated National Land Planning Act (國土計畫法).

The developer, a subsidiary of the hotel and retail conglomerate Miramar Group, should recognize that the project is illegal and abort it, without threatening to seek state compensation, Tsai said.

“However, the east coast is still threatened by oversized tourism development. Four hotel projects on the county’s coasts are under review, and another project has begun construction. All of those projects are larger than the Miramar resort in terms of development area and room capacity. Those developments can overwhelm the environment’s capacity, but none of them has been withdrawn,” he said.

The incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration should replan the nation’s land development, focusing on conservation and sustainable development and addressing the issue of overdevelopment in line with the National Land Planning Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act (海岸管理法), he said.

“The DPP has placed increasing the number of Chinese tourists at the center of its tourism policy, which is likely to overload the east coast environment. President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should honor her campaign pledge to establish a tourism environmental review system to protect the environment,” he added.

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