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Tourism Bureau responds to construction on Penghu’s Shili Beach
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-12 02:42 PM
The Tourism Bureau has made it clear that it will never agree to unbridled development and construction on Penghu’s pristine Shili Beach, popularly called Shell Beach, which just last year was officially listed among the "World's Most Beautiful Bays." Local residents and environmental groups have accused developers of pushing ahead on construction in the area to make money on one of Taiwan’s finest unspoiled beach areas.

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A spokesperson for the Tourism Bureau said Sunday that Shili Beach offers unique resources for visitors and it must not be despoiled by developers interested in exploiting it. The bureau said that it supports reasonable and sustainable tourism development which does not harm the natural beauty and resources of local areas.

The developers have been instructed to remove fencing along the beach which had been erected to close off an area where construction will take place. They have also been ordered to remove molds for pouring concrete assemblies which had been assembled on the beach.

The Tourism Bureau emphasizes that preliminary permits for tourist hotels are a pre-licensing mechanism which allows prospective developers to conduct feasibility assessments. The first step in such procedures is to examine whether plans for developing regional tourism and hotels are consonant with land usage rights. It calls for meetings involving experts and scholars to review overall development plans as well as input from building, land, and other relevant agencies in the county government to determine the feasibility of plans and their impact on the surrounding area. Construction permits for development are issued only after such a review has been conducted.

Developers must also see that construction and management plans are in line with required environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and other relevant laws and regulations. Preliminary permits are equivalent to construction permits, and all relevant authorities are advised to adhere to governing rules and regulations including EIAs, soil and water conservation planning studies, land use plans, building and wiring plans and other specified aspects of development .

The Tourism Bureau explained that this case involves Penghu Bay Tourist Hotels Corporation, which applied to develop the Penghu Sea Paradise Resort Hotel and obtained a preliminary permit in 2003. In 2009 the developer applied for an extension of the preliminary permit, and in 2013 a building permit was issued by the county government. A review of the case showed that the land is located in a non-urban area reserved for recreational use and can be developed as a hotel. Approval of a lease for the land in question was reportedly granted during while Penghu was governed as part of Taiwan Province.

The Tourism Bureau emphasizes that development of the area must meet certain requirements for open space including specified building lines and building footprint ratios and floor area ratios, and the entire development area may not be given over to use as buildings. The developer must also pay attention to environmental protection and green considerations and reserve certain areas for beach recreation and natural conservation.

The bureau spokesperson reiterated the government’s position that the issuance of a preliminary permit does not give developers free license for unrestricted development. All plans should respect environmental, construction and other factors in determining the extent of building lines limits on building heights, provisions for sewage and effluents and all other permits and licenses as specified by governing authorities.

The Penghu County Government reportedly issued a construction license for the project last year. The Tourism Bureau says the developers proposed building a 32-room hotel on a rural property reserved for recreational use, which is permitted as long as green areas and the sand beach are preserved.

Under the Building Act, developers must report starting dates for construction and other information to local authorities, and construction must begin within six months after a construction permit is issued.

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