Thu, Jul 28, 2016 - Page 3 News List

EPA approves Shanyuan hotel without locals’ input

DEVELOPMENT:Activists say local Aborigines have not been consulted about the project, prompting the property administrator to say it could cancel the lease

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

A controversial hotel project in Taitung County’s Shanyuan Bay (杉原灣) was yesterday given environmental approval, weeks after the Cabinet said the project would not be approved without the consent of local Aboriginal communities.

The Shanyuan Palm Beach Resort is the largest planned tourism development on the east coast.

In 2002, the project received environmental approval, but in 2010 another application was filed as required by law because construction did not begin within three years of the initial approval.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on June 29 approved an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the condition that the developer clarify land-use rights and water supply issues at yesterday’s assessment.

The EIA committee yesterday validated documents provided by the developer and reconfirmed its decision to approve the project, despite criticism.

The project has been controversial because of its size — a 25 hectare development with a 550-room hotel complex.

Following a protest, the Executive Yuan on July 6 said the government would not approve the Shanyuan Palm project if it failed to get the consent of local Aboriginal residents.

At the committee meeting yesterday, Citizens of the Earth researcher Huang Ching-ting (黃靖庭) questioned the sufficiency of water in the area, saying that Taiwan Water Corp at another EIA meeting earlier this month said there was a water shortage in Shanyuan Bay, so how could there be no shortage now?

The developer did not seek consent from local Aborigines and the Tourism Bureau should assess local tourism capacity as a whole, Huang said, adding that planned hotels in Shanyuan Bay would overwhelm the area’s tourism and environment capacity.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen’s (林淑芬) representative said the developer rented the planned development site from the National Property Administration at less than NT$1 per ping (3.3m2) per year, and that such extremely low rent is against the public interest.

EPA Deputy Minister Thomas Chan (詹順貴) said the project application was approved last month, and yesterday’s meeting was simply a formal confirmation.

“Controversies surrounding the project, such as Aboriginal consent and limits to tourism development in the area, cannot be determined by the EPA. It is wrong to blame the EPA for not dealing with things that are outside its jurisdiction,” he said.

The Executive Yuan convened meetings and made announcements about the case, but it is the duty of other government agencies, such as the Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Tourism Bureau, to carry out the Cabinet’s decision.

Those agencies hardly expressed any opinions about the project at previous EIA meetings, and environmental groups and residents should pressure those agencies to take action, he said.

Meanwhile, the National Property Administration made a rare announcement on the project, saying if the developer failed to negotiate with local Aborigines in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民基本法), it would terminate its contract with the developer.

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