GEORGE TOWN, Dec 22 — The land reclamation proposed for the southern side of Penang island will unavoidably alter the environment, state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow admitted today.
He said, however, that projects of such nature cannot be expected to leave the environment completely untouched.
“We don’t deny that, but what we have to look at is the mitigation measures that we can implement,” he said in a press conference today.
The local government and transport management committee chairman said there were legal provisions to ensure measures are taken to minimise environmental impact for such projects.
He also said not all concerns regarding the possible effects to the environment were valid.
“One of the effects that were of concern was on the turtle landing sites, but of all the landing sites in in Penang, only 0.2 per cent are on the southern side of the island while the majority are on the northern side,” he said.
Chow also denied allegations by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar that the state’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the proposed reclamation project did not fulfil existing environmental laws.
He further insisted the report was prepared according to the terms of reference approved by the Department of Environment.
He said Wan Junaidi’s remarks were premature as the state has yet to submit the EIA report.
Chow added that the report was not yet beyond the stage of obtaining public feedback, which he said the state government was committed to addressing.
“We are still preparing the EIA report now and we have to submitted it to the ministry so we don’t know what he’s referring to when he say we did not comply with the law requirements,” he said.
The comprehensive EIA report was presented by the appointed consultant during a public dialogue session on December 17 and it covered eight volumes.
The eight volumes included the Environmental Impact Assessment, Hydraulic Study, Fisheries Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment, Traffic Impact Assessment, Water Quality Study, Landing of Sea Turtles Study and Tsunami Impact Assessment.
The proposed south reclamation scheme (SRS) off Permatang Damar Laut was meant to fund the state’s ambitious RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
The SRS includes the creation of two man-made islands off the coast, of about 2,000 acres and 1,300 acres respectively, and later another island covering 800 acres.