ILLEGITIMATE: Citizen of the Earth said yesterday in a statement that the court’s verdict has proven that the resort is, by its very nature, an illegal structure
By Sean Lin / Staff reporter
The Kaohsiung High Administrative Court yesterday handed down a ruling in a lawsuit between 14 residents and the Taitung County Government, overruling the government’s approval of the environmental impact assessment （EIA） report for the construction of the Miramar Resort Hotel at Shanyuan Bay （杉原灣）.
In consideration of the impact that air, noise and water pollution resulting from the project would have on the residents’ health and safety, the court ordered that the EIA approval be revoked.
Saying that only five EIA committee members were present at the meeting during which the report was passed, thereby putting the attendance rate of committee members at lower than 50 percent, the court ruled that the passing of the report was in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act （環境影響評估法） and therefore should be invalidated.
In addition, the ruling determined that a pollution mitigation or prevention plan had not been proposed by the developer, Miramar Resort Hotel Co （美麗灣渡假村股份有限公司）, at the time the county government conditionally passed the proposal. Therefore, the resolution breached of Article 8 of the act, which stipulates that cases that could create a profound impact on the environment should go through a second-phase EIA, it said.
The construction project dates to 2004, when the Taitung County Government signed a build-operate-transfer contract with the developer to construct a 6 hectare hotel complex on the beach.
Plaintiff Lin Shu-ling （林淑玲）, an Amis Aboriginal and local resident, said she and her fellow residents had engaged in the legal battle with the county government for nearly 10 years.
“I would like to thank attorney Thomas Chan （詹順貴）, who helped us to win the legal battle, and the judicial system for backing the side of justice for the environment,” Lin said. “I would also like to urge the Taitung County Government not to further appeal [the verdict]. Preserve Shanyuan Bay for Taitung residents and the Aborigines.”
The initial EIA report for the project was overruled by the Supreme Court in July 2008.
However, incorporating the Golden Coast Development Plan in its original proposal, the company submitted a second EIA report for review by the county government, which passed it conditionally in December 2012, prompting residents who opposed the project to file a lawsuit with the administrative court last year.
In a statement, Citizen of the Earth yesterday said the court’s verdict has proven that the resort is, by its very nature, an illegal structure. The group called on Taitung County Commissioner Justin Huang （黃健庭） to dismantle the hotel, whose construction was commenced illegally without an EIA being passed.
Meanwhile, Miramar Resort Hotel Co spokesperson Chu Ying-chou （朱膺州） expressed “frustration and regret” over the verdict, saying it not only affects the resort, but also residents who have been anticipating the completion of the facility.
Taitung County Government Secretary-General Chen Chin-hu （陳金虎） said the court’s ruling has left the government at a loss as to legal standards.
He said the EIA committee meeting in question was carried out in compliance with orders issued by previous verdicts and that three county government officials opted out as interested parties, but the ruling has excluded more officials from attending the meetings, including the directors-general of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Tourism.
He said the county government has spared no effort when it comes to environmental protection, which is manifested in its requirement that a membrane hybrid system for tertiary wastewater treatment be present at the resort, to ensure that no wastewater would be discharged.（Additional reporting by Huang Ming-tang）
Protesters in front of the Miramar Garden Hotel in Taipei on April 17 last year hold towels bearing the slogan “Demolish the Miramar Resort,” referring to an unfinished beachfront development in Taitung County. Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times