GEORGE TOWN, Sept 16 — The Penang government will start the process to resubmit the environment impact assessment (EIA) for the Penang South Reclamation to the Department of Environment (DoE), said Zairil Khir Johari.
The state infrastructure and transport committee chairman said the state exco also decided yesterday to file for judicial review of the Appeal Board’s decision to declare the 2019 EIA approval null and void in allowing an appeal from a fisherman.
“The state government does not agree with the Appeal Board and is of the opinion that all planning processes along with the necessary approvals have been fully complied with,” he said in a statement today.
He said the written decision by the Appeal Board stated that the EIA did not comply with Section 34A(4)(a) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 because the Penang Structure Plan 2030 (RSN2030) was not in force at the time the EIA approval was given.
He said the RSN2030 was approved by the state authorities through the state planning committee (SPC) on March 14 in 2019 and it was presented at the National Physical Planning Council on April 18 in 2019.
“These were considered sufficient to fulfil the requirement under Section 34A(4)(a) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 as it states that the project must be in line with the development plan or physical plan approved by the relevant approving authority,” he said.
He said the DoE’s approval of the EIA on June 15 in 2019 did not go against the requirement of the act.
He said the decision by the Appeal Board was based solely on this point and not based on any other substantive arguments or merits of the case.
While the state will be filing a judicial review, he said the state will prepare to resubmit the EIA for approval so that the PSR project can continue.
Last week, the Appeal Board under the Environmental Quality (Appeal Board) Regulations 2003 allowed the preliminary objections submitted by Zakaria Ismail against the approval of the PSR EIA.
In allowing the objection, the approval by the DoE director-general (DG) on the PSR EIA was also set aside as it was ultra vires, null and void.
The PSR is a massive reclamation project to create three islands off the southern coast of Penang island.
The islands, loosely named A, B and C, will measure a total 4,500 acres (1,821 ha) in land size off the coast from Permatang Damar Laut.
The PSR project was first introduced back in 2015 as the funding module of the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) after SRS Consortium was appointed as the project delivery partner (PDP) for the PTMP on August 14, 2015.