LO TERN CHERN and CHONG KAH YUAN The Star 29 Dec 16;
BUTTERWORTH: The Penang state government has assured that the reclamation project south of the island would not start as the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have yet to be completed.
Penang State Local Government, Transport Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said they are waiting for the setting up of a joint committee by the Natural Resources and Environmental Ministry to study the reclamation projects in Penang.
“We will wait for Federal Government approval before starting work to reclaim land south of Penang Island,” he said adding that the state assembly had also passed a motion that the reclamation work will not start without approval from Putrajaya.
The state had proposed reclaiming about 1,500ha of land off the southern tip of Penang island to create three islands – Island A (930.78ha), Island B (560ha) and Island C (330.22ha) – under the South Reclamation Scheme (SRS) to fund its RM46bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.
On Wednesday, Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar called for Penang to halt its reclamation projects pending a new dual-assessment system for the development projects.
Dr Wan Junaidi said a committee would be set up to look into, among others, legal and constitutional aspects pertaining to the developments.
He said the study would then be used as a test case for other reclamation projects nationwide including to draw a new system on EIA and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA).
He also said the Cabinet, the National Land Council and the National Physical Planning Council would consider the new guidelines that will include a wider range of elements to be considered before development projects are approved.
Two NGOs from Penang supported this call, saying that all reclamation work in the state should be put off until new and improved requirements for EIAs and DEIAs are put in place.
President S.M. Mohamed Idris of both Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) said the announcement by Natural Resources and Environment Ministry for new requirements to the existing EIA regulations and DEIA guidelines are long overdue.
“Urgent improvements need to be made to overcome existing shortcomings in the current system.
“There should be a serious consideration of alternatives to proposed projects, including a no-project option, so that projects are not allowed to proceed if the environmental and social impacts are serious.
“Other measures should include the hiring of independent consultants which are paid through an independent fund to which project proponents provide financial resources.
This will prevent the dangers of having consultants who produce biased EIAs or DEIAs which favour their paymasters,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Penang hopes new EIA requirements not retrospective
The Star 30 Dec 16;
BUTTERWORTH: The state government says new guidelines for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Detailed Environmental Assessment (DEIA) should not be made retrospective for EIA studies already underway in the state.
State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said it should not apply in cases where the Department of Environment (DoE) had already approved the terms of reference.
“We hope the new EIA requirements are not made retrospective,” Chow said yesterday.
The state has proposed reclaiming about 1,500ha of land off the southwestern coast of the island to fund its ambitious RM46bil mega-transportation project.
The terms of reference for the ongoing EIA study has been approved by the DoE.
On Wednesday, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said new compulsory procedures for EIA and DEIA studies for all development projects in the country would be submitted to the Cabinet, National Land Council and National Physical Planning Council before implementation.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said when approved, it would be the new EIA and DEIA system to be followed nationwide.
He urged all states to stop reclamation projects pending the study for a new dual-assessment system for development projects.
Chow assured that the reclamation project south of the island would not start as the EIA had yet to be completed.
“We welcome the setting up of the joint committee to study reclamation projects in Penang by the ministry.
“If the ministry feels there are certain areas which need to be studied in greater detail, we are ready to cooperate,” he said.
“We are willing to comply with any additional requirement and work within the legal framework.
“We will wait for Federal Government’s approval (based on current approved guidelines) before starting work to reclaim land south of Penang Island.”
Chow said this when visiting the pump house at Taman Chai Leng in Prai.
He said the state assembly had also approved a motion that the reclamation work at the south of the island would not start without Putrajaya approval.
“This is to inform all that we are conducting the EIA according to the terms of reference agreed by DoE,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris called for the new EIA and DEIA requirements to include alternatives and the option to call off the proposed projects if the environmental and social impact was severe.
Mohamed Idris said public feedback should also be taken into account.
He said independent consultants, paid through an independent fund, would prevent biased EIA or DEIA “that favour their paymasters”.
Idris said Penang should put on hold the reclamation work pending the approval of new requirements.
LO TERN CHERN and CHONG KAH YUAN The Star 29 Dec 16;