STP2: Speedy approval of environmental impact assessment 'disappointing'

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Last Updated: 6:56pm, Apr 15, 2014

GEORGE TOWN (April 15): Veteran activist SM Mohamed Idris has expressed surprise and disappointment over the Department of Environment’s action in granting conditional approval for the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase Two (STP2) reclamation project’s detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA).

The approval comes barely a month after the feedback period on the DEIA closed, noted Idris, adding that there were many objections, issues and questions that remain unanswered.

Idris, who heads the Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia, said the two NGOs and other civil society groups had raised concerns and called for more in-depth study on the DEIA and the impacts ensuing from the development’s first phase (STP1).

“Among the issues raised by us were justification of the entire project, impact of the previous reclamation for STP1 which has caused sedimentation and erosion elsewhere, mitigation for significant loss of coastal zone and marine resources, undervaluation of environmental services provided by mudflats, seabed habitat and underestimation of impacts of dredging,” he said in a statement today.

The exhibition of the DEIA by the DOE, which was criticised by environmentalists for not being prominently placed in areas accessed by the public, was open for feedback between Jan 21 and March 14.

However, just four days shy of a month, DOE had given a conditional approval to the developer, Easteran & Oriental Bhd raising doubts to such speed.

“The least that the DEIA panel of reviewers should have done is to request the EIA consultants to submit an addendum to the DEIA based on the comments submitted.

“The additional information provided by the consultants should have been exhibited for members of the public to review and submit their comments,” said Idris.

The Edge Financial Daily reported today that Eastern & Oriental’s shares rose to 25 sen to RM2.50 yesterday after DOE approved the DEIA on April 10.

E&O is the parent company of Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd which would be reclaiming 760 acres of sea land off the coast of Tanjung Tokong in the next 30 years.

“The Board of Directors of E&O announced yesterday that its subsidiary, Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, had on 11 April 2014 received the conditional approval letter dated 10 April 2014 from the DOE.

“Now that the DEIA has been approved, the onus is on the Penang government to decide whether to approve the project.

“Will it consider the plight of the environment and affected people or will profit for a private company take precedence?” said Idris, who had asked the state government to scrap the project.

The Edge Financial Daily, citing research house AmReasearch Sdn Bhd, said the gross development value of the project was about RM25billion.

AmResearch also reportedly said that with DOE’s approval, E&O would call for tender proposals for the reclamation after the state government gave its consent.

It went on to say that STP2 had a “very high development potential” due to its “strategic location, sea-fronting land, exciting development concept and enticing architectural designs”.

With such mega concepts, Idris asked who would pay the cost for the loss of income of fishermen, the permanent destruction to the coastal zone and marine resources due to the project activities and subsequent impacts.

“The loss to environmental services is monumental whilst public would have to suffer the consequences.

“Thus, we call on the government to seriously consider the environmental and societal costs of this proposed project and thus not approve the STP2 project proposal,” he said.
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