Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday helped break ground on the Central Taiwan Science Park’s Erlin Township (二林) campus in Changhua County.
Aimed to form a pool of smart machinery and biotechnology businesses, the development project for the campus was proposed by the Ministry of Science and Technology and was finally approved by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in May, following 10 years of controversy. The Executive Yuan has allocated NT$36.3 billion (US$1.18 billion) to develop the 631-hectare campus, which has attracted 12 businesses ready to outlay a total of NT$60 billion, Lai said, calling on the county to accelerate its industrial transformation.
Almost as large as the Hsinchu Science Park, the Erlin campus would become a platform for firms developing smart machinery and aeronautics in central Taiwan, said Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基), who joined Lai for the occasion, alongside Changhua County Commissioner Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷). Chen said he expects the campus to create 6,000 jobs. A plan by the county to develop an industrial park for precision machinery in the same township encountered opposition from environmentalists as an EPA committee met for a second-stage environmental impact assessment in Taipei yesterday.
Development projects that might entail more of an environmental impact than usual are required to undergo a second-stage assessment, which imposes stricter standards than the regular assessment. The 352-hectare site would accommodate businesses that work with ICs, smart machinery, photovoltaics, biotechnology and green energy, the county government said in a report. The county should keep its promise of restricting industrial clusters to northern Changhua while allowing agriculture to thrive in the south, including Erlin Township, Changhua County Environmental Protection Union president Shih Yueh-ying (施月英) said.
Erlin is listed as a region having a high risk of soil liquefaction and flooding, she said, citing the serious damage caused by heavy rainfall and flooding in July. Demand for industrial land keeps growing, and is expected to increase to 2,211 hectares by 2020 and 3,311 hectares by 2036, a Ministry of Economic Affairs official said, expressing support for the development plan. However, Tamkang University economics professor Liao Huei-chu (廖惠珠) questioned the project’s necessity, saying that many industrial land tracts for sale in the region have failed to attract buyers due to a lack of interest.
The committee asked the county government to provide more documentation by Nov. 30 on the estimated business occupancy, water use and disaster prevention, among other requirements.
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