Illegal beach resort in Kenting not yet fined, minister says

POLITICS AS USUAL::Environmental Protection Agency Minister Stephen Shen said that there had been some flaws in the implementation of the law

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Tue, May 28, 2013 - Page 3

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) yesterday said the administration had already made an official request to the Pingtung County Government to fine the Yoho Beach Resort in Hengchun Township (恆春) for operating without gaining Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval in advance, but it has not happened yet.

At a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee to review a proposal to freeze the EPA, Shen was asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) about developments in the case of the resort, a hotel that was found to have operated illegally without EIA approval.

Shen said there had been some flaws in the implementation of the law in this case in the past, but that the administration maintains the view that the hotel was in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (EIA Act, 環境影響評估法).

However, as the resort is classified as a tourist hotel, the relevant authority for dealing with the case is the local government, so the administration had returned its new EIA report to the local government, Shen said.

He added that based on the EIA Act, the administration has also suggested to the local government a method for calculating Yoho’s illegal gains.

“So far Yoho has not been fined according to the EIA Act,” he said, adding that a NT$50,000 fine imposed on the company by the county government this month should be based on the Statute for the Development of Tourism (發展觀光條例).

In response to Wang’s question about whether the local government is at fault for the lack of action, Shen said the implementation of the fine was still ongoing, and whether the EPA should step in to enforce the punishment would be determined by the progress of the case.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) asked Shen to report on the latest situation regarding the EPA’s nationwide investigation into cases where hotels are operating without EIA approval.

Shen said that most county bureaus have already reported results, but that the EPA still needs to confirm whether the reports were conducted appropriately before announcing the findings.