Farmers elated as science park’s permit is revoked

‘SERIOUS WASTE’::The High Administrative Court said the park would ‘waste land and resources, compromise food safety and affect the nation’s sustainability’

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 3

Opponents of the fourth-stage development project at the Central Taiwan Science Park say the government should immediately halt the project after the Taipei High Administrative Court revoked the development permit issued to Central Taiwan Science Park Administration yesterday.

The ruling from the High Administrative Court has made the project the first case in the country in which the development permit was revoked. It could potentially disrupt the government’s plan to turn the Erlin Science Park — the site reserved for the park’s fourth stage development project — into a precision-industry park as well.

Some may also see the ruling as a slap in the face for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), because he used the development project at Central Taiwan Science Park in his National Day address as an example of how the government plans to lift investment barriers and balance development in different regions.

Farmers in Erlin Township (二林), Changhwa County, who filed the administrative lawsuit, were elated yesterday and said the development project should be stopped immediately following the court’s decision.

The High Administrative Court said in the verdict that the Ministry of the Interior, which issued the development permit, failed to consider that many science parks tend to be over-developed and that some of the nation’s industrial zones still have massive properties that have yet to be used. It is unnecessary for the government to spend enormous amounts of money to develop the Erlin Park, the court said.

“The development [in Erlin Park] will cause serious waste of the nation’s land and resources, compromise food safety and affect the nation’s sustainability,” the court said. “Revoking the permit will not contradict the public interest. Rather, the ruling would safeguard a major public interest.”

In response, the National Science Council, which supervises the operations of science parks around the nation, said it was surprised by the ruling yesterday.

“The High Administrative Court had twice overruled the residents’ petitions in its rulings on Aug. 23 and Dec. 30 in 2010, which were later finalized at the Supreme Administrative Court with its rulings on Oct. 22 and Dec. 29 of the same year,” the council said. “The High Administrative Court has made a completely different decision this time. We are seeking to understand the rationale behind the ruling.”

The council said it would appeal the case to the Supreme Administrative Court, adding that the ruling from the High Administrative Court would not have any bearing on the efficacy of the development permit at this point. Meanwhile, the council’s plan to turn Erlin Park into a low-water use, low carbon emission industrial zone remains unchanged.

Attorney Chang Yu-yin (張譽尹), who represented 85 farmers in the lawsuit, said the Ministry of the Interior had twice asked the Ministry of Justice about the legality of several issues during the lawsuit, including the fact that the interior ministry did not secure written approval from the Council of Agriculture about the use of the land and did not possess documentation proving ownership of the land and buildings.

The justice ministry had replied that the interior ministry had violated relevant regulations during its inquiries, but the interior ministry had deliberately hidden and ignored this crucial information, Chang said.

The Taiwan Farmers’ Union, said that the ruling serves as a good opportunity for the government to stop development, return the land to farmers and properly consider the issue of sustainability.