Malaysia: Concern over theme park site sited near forest reserve

David Tan The Star 21 Nov 11;

GEORGE TOWN: The location of the proposed RM120mil Escape Theme Park Resort is causing worries to environmentalists as it is near three greenery zones – the Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve, Penang National Park and the Teluk Bahang Dam.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) advisor Kanda Kumar said photographs of the project site appeared to show that the theme park was located below a foothill and close to the dam, forest reserve and the national park.

The park resort is located on a 17ha site in Teluk Bahang.

“So far, it is not clear if a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) report has been done to ensure that the project will not cause soil erosion or damage the dam, the forest reserve and the national park.

“Such an EIA report should have been made public before the project was awarded and approved,” he said.

The first phase of the Escape Theme Park, to be located on a 6.8ha site, is scheduled to start work soon and expected to be completed in 2013.

The theme park, when fully completed in six years, is claimed to be able to generate economic benefits for some 6,000 people involved in the services industry and supply chain business.

The Escape Theme Park is being developed by Sim Leisure Consultant Sdn Bhd.

Penang Institute (formerly Socio-Eoconomic Research Institute) senior research fellow Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee said the theme park should not be too close to the dam, reserve park and national park.

“A theme park in Teluk Bahang will bring more cars to the island, which is already facing traffic congestion problems.

“A good location for a theme park is Seberang Prai, which will boost tourism for the mainland,” he said.

Sim Leisure Consultant director of finance P.H. Chang said the Penang Department of Environment had declared the project to be eco-friendly.

“As such, it is does not need an EIA report,” he claimed.

Sim Leisure managing director Sim Choo Kheng said there would be five main components to the park, comprising three phases that would take six years to complete.

This will involve the development of a water theme park, fun hotels, activity park, animal farm and jungle adventure.

“This will be a prototype project.

“There will be minimal impact on the environment and we will try to use as much recycled material as possible,” Sim said.

In October last year, the company signed a 60-year agreement with the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBA) Sdn Bhd to lease the 17ha land located downstream of the Teluk Bahang Dam.