147 EIA reports rejected so far this year

Kota Kinabalu: As of last month, the State Environment Protection Department (EPD) rejected 147 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports – nine from housing developments, seven on the development of commercial areas and one on the development of industrial areas.

Others were 35 on sand/stone dredging, two on aquaculture, five on construction of roads, 26 with regards to quarry operations, 24 on logging, four on agriculture, one on the construction of port or jetty, eight on recreational areas, 16 on earthworks, four on reclamation, one on dam construction and four others under Section 13 and 14.

Disclosing this, Senior Assistant Director of the Environmental Protection Department Daisy Aloysius, said, "Any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report will face rejection by the Environment Protection Department (EPD) if the report has shown that the proposed project will result in significant adverse environmental impacts and no appropriate mitigation measures are outlined to comprehensively solve problems."

"The EIA report will also be rejected if the proposed project contradicts government policies or plans, and recommendations made by other departments or authorities that the proposed project has unacceptable impacts on the environment."

Other departments that may be involved include the Forestry Department responsible for enforcing the Forestry Enactment 1968, Sabah Parks responsible for enforcing the Parks Enactment 1984, Wildlife Department responsible for enforcing the Wildlife Enactment 1997, the Drainage and Irrigation Department for enforcing the Water Resources Enactment 1998, the Town & Regional Planning Department responsible for enforcing the Town and Country Planning Ordinance (Cap. 141), the Lands & Surveys Department responsible for enforcing the Land Ordinance (Cap. 68), the Natural Resources Office responsible for enforcing the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000, the Fisheries Department responsible for enforcing the Sabah Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Enactment 2003, the respective local authorities under the Local Government Ordinance 1961.

"The EPD roles do not end at EIA report processing. The EPD will institute legal action when non-compliance to the environmental conditions is noted. Issuance of warning letter, compounding the offender, or a stop work order could be given.

"The EPD Director can amend, add or delete any environmental conditions if the EPD Director thinks it is appropriate and practical for the protection of the environment.

"The EPD review process seeks to ensure that impartial and proper consideration of the EIA report is done including a critical review of the assessment of environmental impact is made and the proposed mitigation measures and recommended monitoring programmes are in place.

"There may be a need for additional information, besides critical consideration of public comments and responses from the consultant," she said during her presentation on 'Social Studies in EIA Systems in Sabah' at Universiti Malaysia Sabah at the 3rd Workshop on Social Impact Assessment for Development Project recently.

The review process is regarded completed when the environmental assessment is sufficient for EPD and review panel to evaluate the most important environmental effects of the projects with the proposed mitigation measures and monitoring programmes found appropriate, realistic and sufficient for the formulation of the Agreement of Environmental Conditions.

Source URL: Daily Express