GEORGE TOWN, April 19 — The first Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the controversial Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project was rejected last year, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow revealed today.
The Penang lawmaker said the first EIA was rejected due to the Fisheries Impact Assessment (FIA).
“We have submitted a revised EIA in February this year and it will be put on public display for a month from April 29,” he said.
The first EIA for PSR was conducted in 2017 but it was rejected last year as conditions were not met with regards to the FIA.
Chow said the EIA was resubmitted with additional mitigation measures to comply with conditions in the FIA.
Despite this new hurdle, Chow said the physical reclamation works to create three islands off the southern coast of Penang island could start between “one to two years from now”.
“This will take another one to two years therefore any speculation that the reclamation, PIL1 or LRT will start next year is subject to how fast and how well we can comply with the requirements. If we can’t comply with the EIA, TIA, FIA, SIA, we can’t start,” he said, referring to the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
PSR is a proposal to create three islands covering 4,500 acres off Permatang Damar Laut on the southern coast of Penang island.
It is expected to increase the state’s land bank, with lots on the islands sold to raise money to fund the state’s ambitious RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1), a 19.5km highway connecting the south to the north of the island, and the light rail transit (LRT) are components proposed under the PTMP.
Chow said the PTMP project delivery partner, SRS Consortium, is responsible for obtaining all necessary approvals for the project from relevant authorities.
“It is in our DNA to obtain all approvals before starting any work, I can’t give you an exact date on when we can start,” he said.
As for the National Physical Planning Council’s (NPPC) 18-point advisory issued to the state government yesterday before the implementation of the project, Chow said it meant the state government and SRS can start work on the second stage of the PSR.
“We will need to work on the detailed design, financial architecture and complying with the 18-point advisory to implement this project,” he said.
Chow explained that “financial architecture” meant working out how to generate revenue from land reclamation, how to pay for the reclamation, how to generate revenue from the reclamation, how to use the revenue to pay for the construction costs of the infrastructure project along with the quantum of the financing and the period needed.
Civil society groups have objected against both the PSR and PIL1, citing environmental damage and irreversible social impact.
Fishermen groups have also opposed to the PSR as the project could potentially affect the lives of 3,140 fishermen and their families.
One of the 18-point advisory emphasised that the state must implement mitigation measures by preparing new job opportunities and relocating the 3,140 people affected by the reclamation project.
The Department of Environment (DOE) approved the EIA for PIL1 on April 10 with 56 conditions, paving the way for the state to start drawing up detailed designs for the project.