Court halts resort project on environmental impact

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The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The Taitung government has ordered a developer to halt construction of a resort at a beach in the eastern county after losing a legal battle against environmentalists. The order comes after the High Court ruled that the county government’s permit for the Beautiful Bay project was based on an invalid environmental impact assessment report. The court demanded the county government suspend the project. The ruling marks a major victory for environmentalists who have been fighting for more than a decade to stop the building of a resort at Shan Yuan Beach. The county awarded the BOT (build-operate-transfer) project to the developer after its environmental impact assessment gave it a green light. It remains to be seen whether the court ruling is the official death of the project, as the developer has vowed to seek a retrial. The developer said it has already suspended work after receiving the county government’s order, which it said has caused almost 300 people — including 200 construction workers and 70 employees of the company — to lose their jobs. The company said it has offered to relocate its employees to businesses in other counties, but only five of them have agreed to leave. Those who are not willing to be relocated will have to be laid off, the company said. The company may also seek national compensation, which may amount to over NT$1 billion, the Central News Agency (CNA) said. Some environmentalists suspect that construction has not stopped, as workers can still be seen at the site and noises of machinery operations can be heard, the CNA said.

The activists have not only disputed the validity of the environmental assessment, but have also filed a lawsuit against the county government accusing it of illegally benefiting the developer of the resort project.