Faber residents squawk over road plan

Access road that LTA is set to build will cut through area of greenery where wild birds live
Amanda Tan Straits Times 2 Mar 11;

THE Land Transport Authority's (LTA) decision to build a road in Clementi has ruffled the feathers of nature lovers living in the area.

Work has started on the 1km road aimed at easing congestion along Jalan Lempeng, which connects to Clementi Avenue 6.

The new road, which gives a direct link to Commonwealth Avenue West, will cut through an area of greenery where residents said wild birds such as the long-tailed parakeet and Tanimbar Corella are regularly sighted.

The area is in the vicinity of condominiums and private homes.

One resident, Ms Chow Bee Lin, wrote to the press last week saying that she hopes the LTA 'will refrain from building a road across the precious bird sanctuary, and that it will help save Singapore's fast-disappearing greenery'.

Another resident, Mr Wang Bin, has raised the issue with the LTA, the Ministry of National Development and MP Yu-Foo Yee Shoon. Said Mr Wang, 43, a consultant in an IT firm who lives in a condo: 'I bought this place because it is surrounded by nature, and every morning I'm woken up by the sounds of different birds. I've just moved in and now I have to bear with the noise and dust.'

'I understand there's a conflict between development and conservation,' he added, but noted that traffic snarls occur only during peak periods such as before and after school hours.

He said he spent three days taking pictures of birds in the area last month and spotted 30 species.

According to Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society Singapore (NSS), clearing the area is not illegal if the site is not a designated nature area.

However, he pointed out that 'wildlife does not discriminate between nature reserves and non-protected green areas, and thus even sites such as the one in question may have considerable value from a wildlife point of view'.

Mr Leong Kwok Peng, vice-president of the NSS, said the road will have a 'direct impact' on the proposed green corridor, a stretch of greenery along the old Jurong Line which links up with the Malayan Railway tracks extending 40km from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

This means that the Jurong Line's train tracks will be removed and the natural vegetation cleared to make way for the road.

The LTA said the new road is necessary to relieve the heavy traffic flow along Jalan Lempeng and cope with the expected increase in traffic from new developments in the area.

Before starting on the project, the LTA had met with grassroots leaders, advisers and residents of the Faber Hills estate and got positive feedback.

According to the LTA spokesman, 'the decision to construct this access road was made even before the proposal for the green corridor by the Nature Society was mooted'.

The authority will be 'working closely with NParks (National Parks) to plant trees to replace those affected' by the road construction.

Noting the residents' concerns, Mrs Yu-Foo, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said: 'We try to please everyone and try to achieve a win-win situation, but sometimes the decision has to benefit the majority.'

'In future, the land will be developed and the population will grow a few times so it's not just to serve present residents, but it will also have to serve future residents,' she added.

Some residents, like banking officer Gerard Yong, 28, look forward to less chaotic traffic once the new road is up.

He said it is a 'pain' now to drive from his condo along Jalan Lempeng as it takes him at least three minutes to reach Clementi Avenue 6, even though the distance is less than 50m.

Additional reporting by Jessica Cheam