The Oral Argument of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Third Runway Lawsuit Will be Held Soon. What are the Points of Contention Surrounding this Case?

Translated by: Zoe Wang

The third runway of Taoyuan Airport is planned to be located north of the existing runway and is expected to be completed by 2030 at the earliest. Since the beginning of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for the third runway, points of contention include the runway’s location, flight safety, and lack of social impact assessments. After over a year of preparatory hearings, the court will hold the oral argument for this case on March 16th, 2023. Let’s take a closer look at the disputes in this case!

▍Alternate Site Assessment was Not Conducted for the Third Runway

During the second phase of the EIA review, the “do nothing alternative” (the third runway not being developed at all) was used as the only alternative. However, Taiwan’s EIA Law, as well as the European Union’s EIA Directive and similar regulations in the United States, all require that when determining reasonable alternatives for development projects, there should be expansive public participation and choose feasible alternatives for the assessment from an open-minded standpoint.

There are indeed alternatives for the location of the third runway. In the Taoyuan Airport Master Plan (桃園機場綱要計畫) approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), three location options (A, B, and C) were proposed for the location of the third runway. All three options can achieve the target passenger and cargo volume of the target year but differ in terms of population relocation and affected areas. Option A, which is currently adopted, is the one with the highest population relocation and affects the largest area. Options B and C, though they both have less impact on the local area, were not evaluated in the environmental impact assessment.

▍Lack of Risk Assessment for Northern Taiwan’s Largest Oil Storage’s Proximity to Third Runway

The CPC Corporation’s Shalun Oil Depot supplies 80% of oil in northern Taiwan and 40% of Taiwan’s military reserve oil. The centerline of the new runway would be less than 350 meters from the oil depot, making the oil depot the right next to the airport. However, the significant social security risks, public health risks, and other risks related to the proposed third runway’s proximity to the oil depot did not go through a detailed assessment. The EIA report does not include the basis and process of the risk assessment; it only includes a risk matrix as the assessment result. During the preparatory hearings, the Civil Aeronautics Administration also admitted the lack of a collision risk model calculation report. #no calculation report #write direct answers (#沒有計算過程 #直接寫答案)

The legal team also revealed that while the EIA report’s conclusion refers to an evaluation by the “National Taiwan University Center for Transportation Technology Research” (台灣大學交通科技研究中心), the research center does not exist. The report also used the risk assessment model for “rail transport,” which is significantly different from the Civil Aeronautics Administration’s safety management system (which is based on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s system) and Taoyuan Airport’s safety management system. 

▍Lacks Consideration for the Puxin River Flood Diversion Project and Runaway Soil Geological Condition Survey Contains Errors


The current planned location for the third runway crosses a channel of the Puxin River, which necessitates a flood diversion plan for the channel. In the future, the section of the Puxin River that crosses the runway will be accommodated by a culvert that will flow under the runway. This means that the river diversion facilities for Puxin Rivers must be constructed before the third runway development plan, as it will have a direct impact on the flood safety of the third runway, but the flood diversion plan was not accessed in advance or in conjunction with the environmental impact assessment for the third runway. 

Furthermore, in the first environmental difference analysis report of the third runway EIA report conducted last year, it was indicated that “some areas… have compressible clay layers, which leads to soil consolidation and settlement issues.” As such, it is necessary to carry out land preparation, filling, and large-scale rolling operations, which contradicts the original EIA report’s claim that the soil is a good load-bearing layer. However, it is impossible for the geological composition to naturally change in just a few years, clearly indicating a discrepancy between the original EIA report and reality. It is worth noting that residents raised the issue of runway soil quality multiple times during the EIA process, as their experience with the construction of Fuhai Temple near the runway led them to strongly suggest that the runway’s geology should be carefully investigated.

▍Incomprehensive Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Lack of Specific Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Measures

The Environmental Protection Agency has established calculation guidelines for greenhouse gas offset plans of development activities. In order to evaluate annual greenhouse gas emissions, six major greenhouse gas emissions must be quantified. However, in the EIA report for the third runway, they deliberately used incorrect calculation units, resulting in “near-zero” emissions for two greenhouse gasses after they were converted. Additionally, only carbon dioxide and no other greenhouse gasses were assessed in some evaluation areas, and specific reduction targets and verification plans for greenhouse gas emissions were not proposed.

▍Incomplete Social Impact Assessment and Biased Questionnaire Prompts Only Focus on the Benefits of the Development Project

The most significant impact of the development of the third runway on local residents is the forced relocation due to land expropriation. However, in the social impact assessment section of the EIA, the original data that should have been examined by the assessment committee to verify the objectivity and completeness of the investigation, such as the sampling framework of the questionnaire and quality control of the interview data, was not included. Moreover, when asking residents whether they support the development project, the prompts provided by the interviewers only mentioned the benefits of the runway development such as economic prosperity and did not mention the potential infringement on the rights and interests of local residents. This clearly indicates biased questioning that leads residents to answer that they support the runway development project.

▍What is the current situation of Taoyuan Aerotropolis in 2023?

Taoyuan Aerotropolis is the largest zone land expropriation case in Taiwan, with it being expected to expropriate 3,148 hectares. The first phase of expropriation alone covers an area of 2,599 hectares and will affect at least 6,000 families. In order to build an additional runway, a high social cost will be paid, but during the EIA and land expropriation review process, is it clear that the administrative departments have an insufficient understanding of the current social situation within the development area, let alone a comprehensive recognition of vulnerable groups or an analysis of the overall impact of relocations. These factors will all cause irreversible damage to human rights. 

The Taoyuan Aerotropolis EIA lawsuit is a joint effect of local residents, lawyers, and organizations - the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Anti-Forced Eviction Alliance (航空城反迫遷聯盟), the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會), the Environmental Jurists Association (環境法律人協會), and the Environmental Rights Foundation (環境權保障基金會). We invite you to continue to pay attention to the development of the case. 


✸|Welcome to the Court to Observe|✸ March 16, 2023 (Wednesday) 10:30 AM Taipei High Administrative Court ▻ Second Courtroom No. 101 Fuguo Road, Shilin District, Taipei City