Government to conduct environmental study for portion of Cross Island Line

Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 11 Sep 13;

SINGAPORE: The government will conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the portion of the Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The study will ascertain how various alignments of the line could affect the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The government's decision will also take into account other considerations such as transport connectivity, travel times and land use compatibility.

The study will include an assessment of the possible environmental impact on the reserve by possible direct crossing and skirting alignments during various phases of the project.

A tender for the study will be called in the first quarter of 2014 and the study is expected to be completed in 2016.

The Land Transport Authority said at a news conference on Wednesday that it has not made a decision on the final alignment of the Line.

Engineering experts said that the Environmental Impact Assessment needs to be thorough.

Dr Leung Chun Fai, professor of the department of civil and environmental engineering at the National University of Singapore, said: "If its a two years span, it would be really quite extensive and all angles will be looked at.

"Unlike other normal MRT tunnelling works, where the main concern is mainly the buildings adjacent to it; now in this case, it's nature -- so the aspect of the study will extend to the environment. So, in some ways this two years span is justifiable, in view of the extra things they have to look at."

Nature groups have called for a realignment of the line to skirt around the nature reserve.

However, LTA said this could duplicate the route taken by the Circle Line and the future Thomson Line. It said some residents in the Thomson area have also raised concerns the alternative route might affect their homes and living environment.

Nature groups will also be conducting their own study on the environmental impact the Cross Island Line will have on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

LTA will take into account the study by the nature groups in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Tony O'Dempsey, council member of the Nature Society (Singapore), said: "We will be helping LTA to scope the schedule of work that the environmental impact study has to addressed. It will be specifying the need to assess the bio-diversity of the area, to consider the ramifications of different types of equipment and what types of equipment could be possible to use, what could be the effects of using such equipment in the forests."

Environmental engineers caution that forests could be damaged during the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Dr Leung added: "In order to know the ground below the nature reserve, one would need to make bore holes which are of a typical size 150mm in diameter down to at least some depth below the tunnel alignment level.

"For example, the bore hole may collapse while drilling, and we would have to take a look at the effect on the nature."

LTA said it will minimise the need for boreholes by using non-intrusive soil investigation methods during the study.

The 50km Cross Island Line was announced in January, and is slated for completion in 2030.

- CNA/fa/ac

Cross Island Line: LTA to study different paths, impact on environment
Sumita d/o Sreedharan Today Online 12 Sep 13;

SINGAPORE — Apart from an environmental impact assessment (EIA), extensive engineering studies will also be conducted before the alignment of the Cross Island Line (CRL) is finalised, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday.

Laying out the timeline for the EIA, which is expected to be completed in 2016, the LTA said it will call a tender in the first quarter of next year for a consultant to carry out an assessment of different CRL paths around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, including “possible direct crossing and skirting alignments”.

The EIA will be followed by 18 months of engineering studies to ascertain if it is physically possible for the line to run through selected areas. The CRL is slated for completion in 2030.

Previously, the authorities had said the alignment of the CRL would be finalised only after the EIA. But that did not allay the concerns of nature groups about the possibility that part of the 50-kilometre line could cut through the nature reserve.

The Nature Society (Singapore), for example, had put up a 39-page proposal in July for an alternative, longer route that cuts southwards via Lornie Road around the reserve.

The LTA yesterday reiterated that it “will consider all relevant factors, such as connectivity, travel times, as well as the environmental impact, implications to developments in the vicinity, and costs” before arriving at the final alignment. It added that before the EIA is conducted, nature groups will prepare a document of the relevant studies over the past 20 to 30 years and provide insights based on their extensive experience. Their report will form the base for the EIA.

Conservationist N Sivasothi said this “clear invitation” for environmental groups to participate in establishing the terms of reference and to evaluate candidates for the EIA was significant.

Mr Tony O’Dempsey, the Nature Society’s spokesman on the issue, said it was important that the EIA identify accurately the issues on the ground, the risks of damage and to prescribe monitoring protocols. Singapore Environment Council Executive Director Jose Raymond said that by calling for an EIA, the LTA is showing its concern about the possible environmental impact of running the CRL through the nature reserve.

Nevertheless, the LTA pointed out that some residents of the Thomson area have already raised concerns that their homes and living conditions would be affected by the alternative path proposed by the nature groups.

Mr O’Dempsey said that, while the Nature Society understands their concerns, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve is a “unique national asset” that should be kept intact.

LTA Chief Executive Chew Hock Yong said additional testing on the alternative route proposed by the Nature Society would not “make that much of a difference”. “Even if it costs a bit more, it’s money well-spent because we want to make sure that we have explored all possibilities so that, eventually, whatever configuration, details or alignment we take, we will be able to explain to the different stakeholders,” he said.

While stressing that it “was too early to tell”, he could not discount the possibility of more land acquisition due to the MRT line skirting around the reserve.

All possible routes for Cross Island Line to be considered: LTA
Sumita Sreedharan Today Online 11 Sep 13;

SINGAPORE — An Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) will be conducted on all possible routes for the Cross Island Line (CRL) rail network.

This will include going across the Central Nature Reserve and skirting around it, as proposed by nature groups in Singapore.

This was announced by the Land Transport Authority today (Sept 11).

The nature groups will also be carrying out a study to determine the environmental impact, and the results will serve as a base for the EIA consultants.

The tender for the EIA will be called in the first quarter of next year and is expected to be completed in 2016.

Cross Island Line: Impact on nature to be studied
LTA: No decision on route at largest nature reserve until assessment done
Royston Sim Straits Times 12 Sep 13;

A STUDY to investigate the environmental impact of the Cross Island Line (CRL) on Singapore's largest nature reserve will begin next year.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday said it will call a tender in the first quarter of next year for the assessment, which will help it decide if this MRT line should pass through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve or skirt around it.

Apart from investigating the impact of possible alignments, the consultant will also have to suggest how to reduce any possible negative impact and come up with guidelines on suitable ways to carry out works such as soil investigation in the reserve.

LTA chief executive Chew Hock Yong stressed that no decision on the CRL's route will be made until this assessment and other studies are completed.

Announced in January, the 50km, fully underground CRL, which will connect Jurong to Changi, is targeted to be ready in 2030.

Nature and environment groups soon raised concerns that works for the MRT line could cause irreparable damage to the nature reserve, which they say has a unique, complex and highly sensitive ecosystem. The area that could be affected is near the MacRitchie Reservoir.

In July, the Nature Society (Singapore) released a 40-page paper that suggested running the line around the reserve to reduce damage to its ecosystem.

After several meetings with the LTA, the nature groups have agreed to help define the questions that the consultant needs to answer as part of the environmental impact assessment.

Nature Society spokesman Tony O'Dempsey said the groups will help ensure that there is a "realistic assessment" of the impact of physical works on the reserve.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife Consultancy, said the groups are now collating available literature and research on the reserve's ecology for the study, to ensure that the assessment is "very comprehensive".

"We have to be careful to cover all bases. The nature groups involve many people who have spent many years in the reserve. We know the sensitivities that need to be looked at and the flora and fauna that are at risk."

While the nature groups favour a route which goes around the south of the reserve, some residents in the Thomson area are worried about how the CRL may affect their homes.

Thomson-Toa Payoh Citizens Consultative Committee chairman Ronald Lim noted the area will soon see the start of three other major projects - a deep cable tunnel project, the Thomson Line and the North-South Expressway.

"If the CRL is also built in the area, residents have to put up with the inconvenience for up to 15 years. And who knows if acquisitions may be required?" he said.

He hopes the LTA study will also take into account the urban impact of the CRL.

The assessment, which will take up to two years, is expected to be completed in 2016. That will be followed by an 18-month engineering feasibility study on the possible routes.

After that, LTA will consider all the relevant factors, from the environment to travel time and cost, before deciding on the route. Said Mr Chew: "The findings will guide us in making a considered decision on which option best serves the interests of the public."

Related links
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