Sham EIA green lights concreting of East Coast

On Sat, Dec 22, 2012, the Taidong Council and Miramar Resort convened an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessement). The EIA decision, conducted in a day, after the hotel was illegally built, behind closed doors, where all appointments to the panel were made by the Taidong Council, where the media were refused entrance, decided (without actually visiting the site) that a huge conctrete building on a pristine beach would have a positive environmental impact upon an ancient, natural, public, free sacred site called Shan Yuan Beach. Dulan Holdings, the owners of Miramar, who have been convicted of massive tax avoidance, have been given the green light to concrete the east coast. A natural treasure has become a cash cow for a corrupt private organization.
We gathered as witnesses to this dirty power grab. And to call on all those who love Taiwan’s rugged beauty to join the fight - coz once the coast is destroyed, it’s gone forever.

I can understand your disappointment about the decision, but all this hyperbole sounds a bit silly.

The hotel looks quite nice though, how much is it for double room during the week?

[quote=“SloanRanger”]I can understand your disappointment about the decision, but all this hyperbole sounds a bit silly.

The hotel looks quite nice though, how much is it for double room during the week?[/quote]

He’s not being hyperbolic. Any idiot can see what a mess the west coast of Taiwan is so the notion these fuckers will pave paradise to put up a resort is sound judgment. Furthermore it was clear a lot of other development was waiting to see how this case went. The highway department is now talking about a 4-lane highway. What do you think that will be for? Cyclists?

You clearly know nothing of this case. It was built illegally and if the courts had the powers they do in the west people would be in jail.

The EIA was a sham. There is no other word for it.

[quote=“Mucha Man”][quote=“SloanRanger”]I can understand your disappointment about the decision, but all this hyperbole sounds a bit silly.

The hotel looks quite nice though, how much is it for double room during the week?[/quote]

He’s not being hyperbolic. Any idiot can see what a mess the west coast of Taiwan is so the notion these fuckers will pave paradise to put up a resort is sound judgment. Furthermore it was clear a lot of other development was waiting to see how this case went. The highway department is now talking about a 4-lane highway. What do you think that will be for? Cyclists?

You clearly know nothing of this case. It was built illegally and if the courts had the powers they do in the west people would be in jail.

The EIA was a sham. There is no other word for it.[/quote]

Go MM!

What happens now DD? I read that the Taidong decision is in conflict with a court decision? Is this the end legally speaking or is the issue still in doubt?

tourists?

Sorry to be a dissenting voice but all this talk about ‘fighting’ and ‘concreting the east coast’, referencing Joni Mitchell and like doesn’t seem very constructive to me.

Why can’t the east coast have a 4-lane highway?

Because it doesn’t need it?

Because it would despoil the environment?

I’m sure the department of highways can commission an EIA that demonstrates how the potential environmental impacts can be mitigated and managed. They probably already have a cost-benefit analysis doubrey that concludes the east coast does need a 4-lane highway.

I feel a bit sorry for all those small businesses on the east coast, they pay the same taxes as the rest of the island but their infrastructure is dreadful. Roads are always getting closed due to typhoons and earthquakes, it must be a nightmare to get around.

There have been several court decisions handed down, all of which have found against the hotel.

  1. Originally they applied to develop a 0.9 hectare plot so as to avoid having to undergo an EIA, which kicks in for anything over 1 hectare. However, they were then granted a further 6 plots of the same size by the Taidong Council and proceeded to build one gigantic hotel on them. This was ruled to be illegal.
  2. Having been ordered to stop construction since they didn’t have an EIA, they then conducted one (several years previous to this one). However, the Supreme Court ruled that they had corruptly stacked the panel with government cronies (which is not allowed) and their EIA was declared invalid.
  3. As they didn’t have an EIA, their building permit (which was only for a 0.9 hectare plot) was also ruled to be invalid. Basically, they built the whole thing without a building permit.

They have now simply done a new EIA. So they would argue that technically that it’s not in conflict with previous decisions coz the court just ruled that their previous one was corrupt - they didn’t say they couldn’t do another corrupt one. The frustrating thing is that the Taidong Council has control over the whole process, even though this area is a national treasure. Clearly, it doesn’t make sense to do an EIA after the building has been completed and they should have been ordered to tear down the existing illegal structure before reapplying, but Miramar has called that ‘just a procedual error’ and were allowed to apply for a new one. Which of course they passed. Same as they did the first time. Nobody was expecting anything different.

As i mentioned, the lawyers will appeal the decision (focussing on the legality of doing an EIA after you’ve built your building and the arbitrary nature of the panel appointments), but this is a long, drawn-out process. It took two years to go through all the various courts (Miramar kept appealing the decisions, and losing) until we got to the Supreme Court ruling regarding the first sham EIA. In the meantime, this opened up a two year window in which they were able to complete construction of the hotel. So i am sure they were thinking, ‘Let’s just do that again! That will give us two years of open time and then it will be even harder to shut us down. And hey, let’s get a few more hotels on the go while we’re at it, seeing how it worked so well this time.’

In my opinion, the only answer is massive public pressure on the Central Govt. There are already calls from across party lines to tear it down so we need to keep building on that. It’s a constitutional grey area about what point the central govt can act to rein in an out of control county govt (and as MM pointed out, why aren’t these people in jail?), but someone cracking the whip from outside Taidong is about the only hope. There’s no way the council will back down coz they’ve been in it up to their eye-balls from the very beginning.

There’s talk of going to Taipei to do a major protest/concert there so hope that comes to fruition.

Or a big typhoon.

When they do open though, we will be there making the guests feel as uncomfortable as possible with the aim of getting the message back to the big travel agents in China - ‘Don’t send your tour buses to Miramar if you want them to have a happy Taiwan holiday.’ As 80% of their customers will be China tour bus tourists (who never spend a cent at a local small business), that should start to impact them where it hurts.

PS. Not sure why bits of the first thread were sin-binned. I was not offended at all by Sloane Ranger writing in his contrary opinions - in fact, i was looking forward to the opportunity of answering them. A bit of dissension just helps open the discussion up and hopefully shed more light on the topic. Can we have them back?

[quote=“SloanRanger”]I can understand your disappointment about the decision, but all this hyperbole sounds a bit silly.

The hotel looks quite nice though, how much is it for double room during the week?[/quote]

Actually, you’re in luck! I am sure the prices for a room at Miramar will be dirt cheap when they first open as they try to drum up business and get things going. A traditional aboriginal welcome of being pelted with rotten eggs when you arrive and heckled whenever you step onto the beach is also fully complimentary.

There’s a beautiful mountain drive in Australia called the Great Ocean Road, and the drive to Taidong to Hualien often reminds me of it. It’s a world class beautiful stretch of coastline with a relatively good highway that rarely gets closed except in the biggest of typhoons (i’m not talking about the Su Hwa). Driving down it is one of those simple pleasures in life. There are mountains all the way and amazing coastline views open up around the bends.

There is no way on earth anyone would get away with putting in a 4-lane tollway on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Or wall to wall hotels on all the best beaches there. And Australia is a big country. It’s got hundreds of beautiful coastal drives - they could probably spare a couple of pristine paradises. But in Taiwan, the east coast is basically it so far as unruined coastline goes. If that’s consumed, it’s all consumed. And this is not a ‘try, try, look’ offer.

The only reason that Taidong’s natural environment has gotten this far without being obliterated is because of it’s isolation. It’s because it’s not convenient to get to. That mountain pass from Hualien to Ilan has physically held back the tide of humanity that is Taiwan. What should be done about the Su Hwa highway is a different thread, but it has bought this area some time. Not much, but maybe enough to get some laws into place to regulate the development here. Not too hard. Outside the major towns, nothing over 2 storeys. Simple enough - seems to work ok in other countries.

But to settle those laws before the coast is corporated, it’s gonna be tight. It’s not one of those things where you can afford to be behind the curve on.

So SR, range down here sometime and stop at one of the big 5-star hotels in Taidong or Chengong if you like, no one had got any problem with that, or venture out and find a guest house or even go crazy and find a great camp spot along the coast. And maybe enjoy some local aboriginal culture, relax, breathe the fresh air. You’re gonna love it.

And in the end, that’s the best argument. Like the Great Ocean Road, the tourist business is booming in the towns along the way. I often talk to them and they all come here coz they love the natural vibe to Taidong. Destroying that so a few rich people can get richer building hotels and filling them up with mainland tour bus tourists is hopefully not gonna make so much sense to you when you get here.

Sorry to hear all of this DD. I have been following the protest group on Facebook, it doesn’t come as a surprise at all, you were always fighting a losing battle. My thoughts are with you all.

I’m following it on Facebook also. I think it’s a tough fight. I think the people need to get more militant, as it is their land not some stupid politician or developer.

[quote=“SloanRanger”]I’m sure the department of highways can commission an EIA that demonstrates how the potential environmental impacts can be mitigated and managed. [\quote\

Oh, we all know they CAN. Whether it would be anything but pure fabrication is the issue.

[quote]
I feel a bit sorry for all those small businesses on the east coast, they pay the same taxes as the rest of the island but their infrastructure is dreadful. Roads are always getting closed due to typhoons and earthquakes, it must be a nightmare to get around.[/quote][/quote]

Then you should be adamantly opposed to this. Here’s what happened. Shanyuan Beach is the loveliest beach on the east coast and ten years ago the local community ran B&Bs, a campground, restaurants, and so on, making a nice sustainable living off the wealth of the natural environment.

Then the beach was given to Taipei based developers for a pittance (Michael Turton reports Miramar pays just over NT100,000 a year). They kicked off all the local businesses and sealed up the beach access.

What have the locals gotten in return? Nothing. Perhaps in the future they can be waiters and receptionists at the resort. But all profits will go back to Taipei-based developers.

This fight is about the environment and about sustainable development and about trying to get politicians to put people first.

If you care about the little guy then this is a cause you should support.

I was there when they had the camping site and it was indeed lovely, very quiet and unspoiled. I don’t get the aboriginal people here, if they want the beach they should take the beach.

[quote=“SloanRanger”]I’m sure the department of highways can commission an EIA that demonstrates how the potential environmental impacts can be mitigated and managed. They probably already have a cost-benefit analysis doubrey that concludes the east coast does need a 4-lane highway.

I feel a bit sorry for all those small businesses on the east coast, they pay the same taxes as the rest of the island but their infrastructure is dreadful. Roads are always getting closed due to typhoons and earthquakes, it must be a nightmare to get around.[/quote]

I think you really need to visit the east coast before offering up your expert analysis. The east coast and specifically hwy 11 has a very low population density and after cycling/motorcycling/driving that road I don’t see any reason to put in a larger highway. You seem to be of the opinion that more development is better even if it isn’t needed.

Your comments regarding the east coast remind me of when I hiked the coastline north of Jialeshui (near Kending) with some foreigners. I tried to explain that for years some have proposed a highway along this stretch and why that would be bad. They didn’t really understand that this stretch was the only roadless coastline in Taiwan and it would be substantially changed if they blasted a road through here. They just responded with ‘but it would be easier for me to get here’.

Some not so often visitors might not know the whole story behind.

I copied a few links for those whom would like to better understand and what has been done.

https://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=99897&p=1440310&hilit=miramar+resort#p1440310

https://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=111791&hilit=miramar+protest

[quote=“Mucha Man”][quote=“SloanRanger”]I’m sure the department of highways can commission an EIA that demonstrates how the potential environmental impacts can be mitigated and managed. [\quote\

Oh, we all know they CAN. Whether it would be anything but pure fabrication is the issue.

Here’s what happened. Shanyuan Beach is the loveliest beach on the east coast and ten years ago the local community ran B&Bs, a campground, restaurants, and so on, making a nice sustainable living off the wealth of the natural environment.[/quote]

This is a ‘Before’ picture. Nice little campground in that grove of trees.

[quote=“Mucha Man”]Then the beach was given to Taipei based developers for a pittance.

What have the locals gotten in return? Nothing. Perhaps in the future they can be waiters and receptionists at the resort. But all profits will go back to Taipei-based developers.
[/quote][/quote]

This is the after version.
Regarding the jobs, which is the only possible argument that they could have, and they often talk about how they are riding to the rescue of Taidong’s dire economic predicament, the current unemployment rate in Taidong is 4.3%. That’s hardly dire. Also, a check of 104 (the online job site) reveals that there are plenty of vacancies in Taidong, many of them at Naruwan, the five-star hotel in Taidong city. So if anyone wants that kind of job, it’s already there. We don’t need more, and given that situation, they will be importing most of their workforce from outside Taidong. As Durban Holdings, the company that owns the company that owns the hotel has been convicted of massive tax fraud, then you wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for any tax benefits to flow into the community either.

That leaves us with absolutely nothing. Except for Sloane Ranger’s 4-lane toll-way and a ruined coastline.

Thanks. My comments aren’t meant personally against anyone, but a lot of the language used in this thread is nonsense, with talk of fighting and blowing up the hotel etc. It just undermines the environmental arguments against development.

I’ve got some sympathy with your point of view, the east coast it beautiful I’ve had two great trips down the east coast (on the train though, I haven’t driven along the coast road), and it will be irrevocably changed by more hotels and development.

I’m not actually planning to build a 4-lane highway myself, but if that’s what the Taiwanese government (and it’s a democracy so I have to assume that at least some of the people, or some wealthy party donors, are behind it too) wants to do then all power to them. A bit of government investment in infrastructure can be a massive boost to the local economy and will attract investment in the area. Land values may then increase and it’s quite possible that some of the camp-site/guest-house owner’s along the coast will be happy to sell-up to developers and retire on the proceeds.

The reality is that there’s 1-billion or so increasingly wealthy potential tourists just over the water and most of them aren’t interested in camping. They want glitz and designer brands, they want to be in and out of the country in 7-days and don’t want to spend 2-days of that time on slow roads admiring the scenery. They need to get to a 5-star hotel on the beach (not in the city) fast, soak up some rays (or more likely sit in the shade and avoid the sun), eat some fancy seafood and enjoy their holiday, ideally with a one day shopping trip back in Taipei before they go.

I think this will happen regardless, but if there were a more reasoned debate then the anti-development lobby might achieve some compromises in terms of where and how it occurs. It seems to me that at the moment the that there’s no middle ground. I think this actually encourages developers to take the fait accompli route, it’s risky for them but is a brilliant negotiating postion.

[quote]it’s not convenient to get to. That mountain pass from Hualian to Yilan has physically held back the tide of humanity that is Taiwan[/quote] exactly. As well as being a reason for why the landscape is so unspoilt, it’s also the perfect argument for a big road.

The anti-road lobby (in the UK at least) rarely wins, at best they delay the construction of a road and make it more expensive. If there’s an economical reason for a road then it will get built, eventually.

[quote=“SloanRanger”]
The reality is that there’s 1-billion or so increasingly wealthy potential tourists just over the water and most of them aren’t interested in camping. They want glitz and designer brands,[/quote]

That’s what’s Macau is for. Taidong doesn’t need to change for that sorry lot.

The Miramar resort will fall into the sea soon enough as anyone with an inkling of coastal dynamics can see. It’s a massive flop and just another white elephant built at the mom and pop investor’s expense.

Next on the agenda will be how to clean up the mass of rubble to return the beach to some semblance of usability after the foundations have been undermined, the investors sucked dry, the CEOs fucked off, and the payed-off politicians retired.

This is indeed a difficult situation and points to the bigger issue of whether the East should be opened up at all. What is so very wrong here ,is the apparent railroading over existing planning rules. Even if the decision was made to build,there has been no real consultation with the local people, as I understand. Should simply not happen.
I have had meetings recently with the Mayor of Taidong and it surprises me,as he seemed pretty switched on and fair. He helped us out on a project because he believed it to be good for Taidong and there was no other "incentive’ for him.
They have to be so careful as Land is one thing they don’t make anymore of.
The newer Rail system down there should be finished in a few years and if there are further Roads planned, it would seem they have already decided to develop this part of the East Coast? The worry is ,what will be next, and there are a few new Hotels being expanded a little inland so I don’t see the need to spoil this Beach?
Demonstrations and Public outcry would seem to be the best way . I only hope it gets you somewhere.Have to try though.