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Miramar Resort developer defends Taitung property amid opposition

2012/07/23 22:08:31

Taipei, July 23 (CNA) A private land developer defended the legality of a controversial resort it has built on a scenic bay in Taitung County as activists revived protests on the beach to have the resort dismantled.

In the latest of a series of demonstrations against the project on peaceful Shanyuan Bay, protesters rallied across from the hotel and showed documents they said proved that the resort was built illegally and was damaging the ecology of the unspoiled coast.

Event co-organizer Lee Yun-yi called for the structure, which has been completed, to be torn down before a new environmental impact assessment is conducted.

She also urged the public to stand up for the protection of the beach and prevent it from being abused for commercial interests.

The Miramar Resort Taitung rejected the protesters' arguments, saying that the property's development has followed "legal procedures" since construction began nearly eight years ago.

The project underwent a five-round environmental impact assessment beginning in January 2007 before being conditionally approved, a spokesman for the developer said.

He also indicated that the company had applied the most stringent environmental standards to the resort's construction.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled in January, however, that the resort's environmental impact assessment conducted by the Taitung County government was invalid because too many members of the assessment committee were county officials.

Because of the ruling, the county government began a new environmental impact assessment on June 2, inviting county officials, independent scholars and experts to join the evaluation process.

The protesters believe that if the resort is not torn down, it will be impossible to conduct a legitimate environmental evaluation.

Their latest rally may have been sparked by a concert held at the resort late last week, perhaps an effort by the developer to build up visibility for the property, which cannot operate until it passes environmental muster.

(By Tyson Lu and Elizabeth Hsu)