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All fences at Shili Beach removed: EPA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday said that all the fences built by Penghu Bay Construction Company at Shili Beach have all been removed to avoid further damage to the environment.

Several locals have raised concerns over the fencing of the public beach recently, and the Tourism Bureau urged the Penghu County Government to give a detailed explanation on the building permit issuance process of the Penghu Bay Construction Company.

The EPA said that officials were dispatched to Shili Beach to make sure that the Penghu County Government ordered the construction company to cease fencing off the beach, based on the Building Act.

According to the EPA there is no artificial construction left on the beach now, but officials still have to make an inspection to see if the environment has been damaged due to the construction and the moulds used for the cement.

The EPA said that the project developer seeks to construct a 32-room hotel on the lot around the beach which will cover about 2.6 hectares. Based on the Act for the Development of Tourism, the project can be approved without passing the environmental impact assessment (EIA) as long as it receives a permit for establishment.

According to the newly revised regulations by the EPA, any hotel construction project that will cover over one hectare of a national scenic area has to go through an EIA first.

However, Penghu County Economic Affairs Department Director Yeh Kuo-ching (葉國清) said that based on the current EIA regulations, Shili Beach is not located within the environmentally sensitive areas, so an EIA is not required for the project.

Penghu Magistrate Wang Chien-fa (王乾發), who also visited the scene, said that the entire project will be shut down.

“The county government initially thought that the construction company fencing the beach was a temporary safety measure,” said Wang. “But the construction already created damage to the beach, which is why the project has to be terminated.”

Tourism Bureau Demands Explanation

Deputy Director-General of the Tourism Bureau Liu Hsi-lin (劉喜臨) said that the establishment permit does not allow the construction company to build any facility on the beach.

Liu said that the major issue of this case is that the construction company did not follow the rules pertaining to the establishment permit, so the Penghu County Government should clarify how the company was cleared for a permit.

According to Liu, the Tourism Bureau agreed that this development has the potential to promote local tourism, which is why the bureau issued the establishment permit to the company.

However, Liu said, the project cannot be carried out until it passes the EIA as well as a soil and water conservation inspection.

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