Tengah environmental study findings to be out soon

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 5 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE — The environmental baseline study to be done at new housing estate Tengah is expected to be completed by the first half of this year, and its key findings would be made known to the public, the Ministry of National Development said of Singapore’s first housing estate dubbed a “forest town”.

Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for National Development, on Tuesday (April 4) addressed a question by Member of Parliament Louis Ng, who asked if the ministry could make public the results of environmental tests done in relation to the development of the new town.

Tengah sits on a green area linking the western part of Singapore to ecosystems in the Western Catchment Area and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Mr Ng also asked if the Housing and Development Board (HDB) would do a more in-depth study or assessment on the environmental impact of the development, instead of a baseline study.

Mr Lee said in Parliament that the baseline study was chosen because Tengah was made up of young secondary forests, scrubland, abandoned sundry cultivation — such as farms and orchards — as well as old brickworks demolished in 2008, and now used as a military training ground.

On what the plans are for the wildlife now living in the area, Mr Lee said that the HDB would put in place wildlife management strategies, such as shepherding wildlife to adjacent forest areas that would not be developed in the short term, so as to minimise the impact on the animals when development works are carried out.

This would not be the first time that the Government is making public the results of an environmental study on a major development project. Last year, due to strong public interest, the Land Transport Authority made the rare move of publishing online the first phase of an environmental impact assessment report on the new rail network, the Cross Island Line.

The masterplan for Tengah was unveiled last September, and HDB said that town planners are setting up a 100m-wide, 5km-long forest corridor there that would link the Western and Central Catchment areas.

Tengah, about the size of Bishan, is the first new public housing estate to be developed since Punggol two decades ago. It is touted by the Government to be a “green” town boasting a car-free town centre, a 20ha park as well as hiking trails. It is expected to be fully developed over 20 years, with public housing making up more than 70 per cent of the 42,000 new homes to be built there.

Parliament: Environmental study, wildlife shepherding plan to be done in Tengah
Audrey Tan Straits Times 4 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE - The animals in Tengah, a secondary forest area in western Singapore where the Republic's first "forest town" will be built, will get help in finding new homes when developmental works start.

Wildlife will be shepherded to adjacent vegetated areas unaffected by development in the short term. This will help reduce the potential impact of works on wildlife, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee told Parliament on Tuesday (April 4).

The Housing and Development Board (HDB), which is building a new town the size of Bishan in Tengah, will also be conducting an environmental baseline study to better understand the topography, hydrology, flora and existing wildlife in the area, said Mr Lee.

"We will share the key findings of the study with the public in due course," he told the House.

Mr Lee was responding to a question from Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked if the Ministry of National Development would make public the results of all environmental impact assessments or studies done in relation to the development of Tengah. He also asked what the ministry's plans were for existing wildlife living in that area.

HDB's decision to conduct a wildlife shepherding plan in Tengah follows a similar move by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2016.

A 30ha plot in Lentor designated for private housing was gradually cleared so that animals are herded to nearby green areas, such as the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The URA's move had helped to save several animals, including the critically endangered Sunda pangolin and the flying lemur. These were relocated or shepherded to nearby green plots.

In Tengah, nine species of birds threatened with extinction have been spotted in the secondary forests there, including the changeable hawk eagle and the red-wattled lapwing, according to the Nature Society (Singapore).

Tengah is the first new town to be developed since Punggol two decades ago, and is touted by the Government as a "green" town boasting a car-free town centre and a 5km "forest corridor" with hiking trails. It will also have a forest corridor that will serve as a wildlife connector between the Western Water Catchment Area and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Located between Jurong East to the south, Choa Chu Kang to the north and Bukit Batok to the east, the Tengah area today is largely forest and scrubland. But it will eventually contain 42,000 new homes: 30,000 units of public housing and 12,000 of private housing. The first public flats there will be launched in 2018.

Mr Ng told The Straits Times he was heartened to see that a baseline study on wildlife would be done in Tengah, and that HDB would also be considering a wildlife shepherding programme.

"It is important to balance our needs for developments with the need for conservation and wildlife protection. I look forward to our dialogues with HDB on this and working with them to incorporate public feedback before the plans are finalised," he said.

"I hope that the public will be given sufficient time to review the study results and provide their feedback to HDB."