Kenting resort shuttered, lacks EPA test

chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/loca … resort.htm
Kenting resort shuttered, lacks EPA test

The China Post news staff
May 4, 2013, 12:16 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Environmental authorities have ordered a beach resort in Kenting to suspend operations and expansion after learning that it has never undergone a mandatory government assessment of its impact to the environment, officials said yesterday.

The Yoho Beach Resort at Wanlitong inside the Kenting National Park said it will decide what to do after receiving the official notification of the ban from the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

Yoho has established itself as a major resort in Kenting, Pingtung County since opening in 1999.

But the EPA said it only found out recently that Yoho was never assessed for its impact on the environment — a process that is mandatory for a development project of its size inside the national park.

The EPA order means that Yoho must suspend its business and stop any expansion project pending the environmental assessment.

Environmental activists described Yoho as another Miramar Resort, a major development project that started construction at Shanyuan Beach in Taitung without clearing an environmental impact assessment.

EPA Minister Stephen Shen admitted that his administration was at fault for the oversight, but maintained that the Kenting park management and Pingtung County Government should have monitored any project under their direct jurisdiction.

Shen said it is now up to the park administration and county government to decide whether the existing structures of Yoho should be demolished.

The county government said it had previously slapped Yoho with maximum fines twice — NT$50,000 each time — for illegal expansion.

The Kenting National Park Administration (KNPA) said there are currently six zones at Yoho, but only two of them have permits to run hotel accommodations.

But as the resort covers an area over one hectare, the park administration said it referred the case to the EPA a month ago asking that an environmental assessment be conducted on Yoho. Since then Yoho has suspended all of its expansion projects, the KNPA said.

The KNPA said it will take action to enforce the ban on Yoho opening its doors to business after receiving the EPA’s formal notification.

Yoho received a permit to construct hotels on part of its premises in the late 1990s before the government passed the environmental law in 2000 requiring that such major development projects be examined for their impact on the environment.

Yoho continued to expand without obtaining hotel construction permits for the new additions, or passing an environmental assessment.

In 2008, the KNPA asked the EPA to determine whether Yoho needed to go through environmental assessment. The EPA replied it should, but no move was made until last month.

Yoho is a popular resort with holidaygoers. It sponsored the production of director Ang Lee’s awarding-winning movie “Life of Pi” by providing accommodation for the film crew.

Environmental activists said many resort and theme park projects in Taiwan have been major risks to the environment, including Miramar Resort in Taitung.

The Miramar project was almost complete when environmental issues forced it to suspend construction.

Miramar distanced itself from the Yoho row, saying the two cases are different. It maintained that its previous misunderstanding of the law caused its violation of environmental regulations.

But it is now ready to resume construction after the Taitung government gave it conditional approval concerning the environmental assessment late last year, it said.

The activists said they will continue their actions to block the Miramar project.

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Yoho applications violate the law: EPA

By Joy Lee, The China Post
May 7, 2013, 12:07 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced yesterday that the Yoho Beach Resort violated the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act when applying for hotel licenses separately in 2003.

The EPA, however, confirmed that the construction permit Yoho received in 1996 did not require an assessment in advance.

The Yoho Beach Resort, a major resort in Kenting, Pingtung County since opening in 1999, was forced to suspend operations and expansion on May 3 after the EPA learned that it never underwent a mandatory government assessment of its impact to the environment

EPA Minister Stephen Shen invited representatives from the Kenting National Park Administration (KNPA), Pingtung County Government and Construction and Planning Agency of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to a meeting regarding Yoho’s EIA issue.

The KNPA said there are currently six zones at Yoho, but only two of them have permits to run hotel accommodations.

According to the Pingtung County Government, when Yoho applied to change the land usage from public housing to hotels in 2006, only two out of six areas within the resort were approved.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said that the four areas that did not pass the change of land usage in 2006 were unauthorized building works from the start.

“The MOI will have to find out how the two areas passed the land usage change in 2006 and hopefully come up with a report about it in the following two days,” said Lee.

Meanwhile, the Pingtung County Government said that Mudanwan Hot Spring Villa, which belongs to the Yoho resort corporation, has been fined three times for illegally expanding its operations.

Yoho Statement

Yoho yesterday said that the resort has not received any phone calls from customers to cancel their room reservations and the resort will continue operations.

According to a written statement the resort issued yesterday, an EIA was not required to construct the resort according to the permit for construction that the company received in 1996.

The statement said that before the government passed the environmental law in 2000 requiring that such major development projects be examined for their impact on the environment, the resort construction was already completed and the license to operate the resort was issued.

KNPA Officials Allegedly Receive Yoho Membership

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that according to local media reports, some KNPA officials received Yoho memberships around the time that the hotel’s operating license was approved.

Interior Minister Lee said that if the officials in question did not purchase Yoho memberships, it would suggest that they may have been involved in graft and the ministry will transfer the case to the investigation authority.

chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/loca … rnment.htm

Pingtung government fines Yoho for illegal expansion

By Joy Lee ,The China Post
May 8, 2013, 12:03 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Pingtung County Government yesterday fined the Yoho Beach Resort NT$120,000 for illegally expanding its hotel’s operating area.

The government also demanded the resort immediately cease operations in its new, illegally developed hotel areas.

According to the county government, the resort’s owner was told to stop expansion work on the hotel grounds. Yoho then failed an inspection on Monday as it was found to still be operating the illegally developed areas.

Yoho was fined NT$120,000 for violating the Act for the Development of Tourism, and may be fined again if it fails another inspection.

Pingtung Deputy Magistrate Chung Chia-ping (鍾佳濱) said that the county government will allow Yoho’s first and second areas, which were legally developed, to continue to operate until the operating license is revoked.

Chung said that some Pingtung officials were sent to the resort to restate that the areas outside the first and second areas of the Yoho resort cannot be legally operated as part of a hotel.

According to Chung, the resort owners could receive fines if they keep operating the illegally developed areas as hotels.

The major Kenting resort, which opened in 1999, was told to suspend operations and expansion on May 3 after the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) learned that Yoho never underwent a mandatory government assessment of its impact on the environment.

Gov’t Should Revoke Yoho Permit to Avoid Protests: Shen

The county government should follow a resolution reached at a cross-departmental meeting on Monday to revoke the Yoho Beach Resort’s business permit as soon as possible to avoid environmentalists initiating a protest, EPA Minister Stephen Shen said yesterday.

“Even though the resolution does not have legal weight,” Shen said, “there are still related documents to support the resolution that the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA), the EPA, the Kenting National Park Administration, and the Pingtung government reached at the meeting.”

Shen said that the CPA, on the other hand, will be responsible for revoking the resort’s license.

“If environmentalists can walk from the East Coast of Taiwan to Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard to protest against the Miramar project, they can definitely walk to Kenting to protest against any potential poor handling regarding the Yoho resort,” Shen said.

According to Shen, the Pingtung government will also be responsible for fining the owner of the Yoho resort between NT$300,00 and NT$1.5 million in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and punishing the owner for the illegal income received since 2006, in accordance with the Administrative Penalty Act.

Yoho Water, Power may be Cut Off Right Away: CPA

The CPA said yesterday that if the Pingtung government does not cancel the resort’s operating license, the agency is legally entitled to immediately cut off the water and power supplies to the hotel’s four new areas.

CPA Deputy Director Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍), however, said that the agency will still wait for the EPA’s final documents to arrive before considering whether to cut off water and power to the illegal developed areas.

Hsu said that all income the Yoho owner has received from illegal operations can still be claimed back by the government.

my initial reaction when I read news from Apple Daily: not again!

“The county government said it had previously slapped Yoho with maximum fines twice — NT$50,000 each time — for illegal expansion.” It’s a miracle that they are still in business after such hefty fines /s

Can’t help but notice that the OP changed all of the Wade-Giles Romanizations for place names to Pinyin (Taitung > Taidong, Kenting > Kending) even though the articles on China Post go by the WG convention used nationally and internationally. Why on earth would you spend the time to go through and change each one to the wrong spelling?

I think Forumosa’s auto-pinyinizer does that.

Kenting - Kenting

Yep, it does.

I think I have been in Taiwan long enough to see the problem between Hotel and EPA. Somebody didn’t get Paid. Seems ,like on the East Coast,anything goes…with --------Money,sorry I meant ambiguous approval…or lack of correct approval…or no approval, well you get the idea.

Well…there must be an interesting background to this. The Kending National Park already has multiple hotels on it’s property that somehow passed the EPAs. This yoho one was probably the last one to get approval or in before the administration started tightening up and by the time they realised they should have gone through the process (i.e. the Miramar way…) they were making so much money that they had a lot to lose and unlikely to get it approved quickly, they were making 500 million NTD revenue a year seemingly so don’t care about the nominal fines, it’s the ‘backward profit fine’ and ‘closure of the majority of the resort rooms’ that is the big problem for them!
Now they are under national media and central government scrutiny so the shit has really hit the fan (rather than the beaches as is normal procedure).

It was a nice. Hotel. Not expensive if you searched for deals. Great water-slide and the life guard staff was super vigilant. I hope they find a way to reopen.