GEORGE TOWN, Dec 1 — The Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project is not as large as the mega reclamation projects in Johor and Melaka, state executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari asserted today as the proposal continues to court controversy.
The infrastructure and transport committee chairman also claimed that mega reclamation projects in other states easily gained approval, unlike those in Penang.
“So the Department of Environment (DoE) Appeals Board decision can be considered an injustice towards Penang,” he told the state legislative assembly this morning.
Zairil added that the reasons given by the Appeals Board in setting aside the earlier approval for PSR’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) are unacceptable.
“In reality, this PSR project was approved and has fulfilled all of the requirements under the Environmental Quality Act so the appeals board decision is unfair,” he replied to backbencher and Jawi assemblyman Jason H’ng Mooi Lye.
H’ng asked if the state government had requested further explanation from the DoE on why the PSR EIA was cancelled when other larger reclamation projects in other states were approved.
However, Zairil said the Penang government is not disputing the appeals board's decision but is confident in achieving a positive outcome through the country’s legal process.
“What we are questioning is the double standards being practised and the victimisation against Penang that often happens,” he said.
However, Zairil said the state government is still confident that a judicial review of the decision by the appeals board will help the state to overturn the decision.
“We believe we will win the case in the judicial review and this will allow us to continue with this project,” he said when replying to an oral question by Goh Choon Aik (PKR-Bukit Tambun) who asked for an explanation of the decision by the appeals board.
Zairil said the state has filed for a judicial review against the appeals board decision.
“The decision by the appeals board to set aside the approval for the EIA was based on a technicality and not due to the impact on the environment,” he said.
He explained that the DoE appeals board had overturned the EIA approval because the approval was given before the project was officially gazetted in the Penang Structure Plan 2030.
“PSR was already approved by the state planning committee and it was later presented to the National Physical Planning Council so these are actually sufficient for the EIA to be approved,” he explained.
He said the state will be using this as part of its reasons in applying for a judicial review against the appeals board decision.