GEORGE TOWN, Aug 31 — The Penang state government has submitted a new and updated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project even as the state’s judicial review application to reinstate the approval for the original EIA hits a snag.
Penang state exco Zairil Khir Johari said the state is going through with a new EIA submission process after the Department of Environment (DoE) Appeals Board cancelled the approval given to the original EIA for the PSR.
“The state will continue to pursue a judicial review against the Appeals Board’s decision despite the initial application being rejected by the Registrar based on a technicality,” he said.
He said the High Court Registrar had rejected the state’s application for a judicial review based on a technicality, so the state had filed an appeal to the High Court against the Registrar’s decision.
“The High Court rejected the application to appeal against the Registrar’s decision, but we can still submit our application for judicial review to be heard in the Appeals Court,” he said.
He said the state exco will need to discuss the next course of action with regards to the application for judicial review before making a decision.
He stressed that the High Court is yet to hear the application for judicial review per se due to it being rejected by the Registrar, so the state still have an avenue to submit it to the Appeals Court for it to be heard.
The original EIA submitted by the state for the PSR was approved in 2019 but the DoE Appeals Board reversed the approval on September 8 last year.
The state had then filed an application for a judicial review to challenge the Appeals Board’s decision.
Pending the legal case against the Appeals Board’s decision, Zairil said the state will push on with a new EIA submission process with a more comprehensive EIA.
“We submitted a new and more comprehensive EIA in April this year and after that, a public display session was held from May 20 to June 18,” he said.
He said most of the feedback received during the public display was positive and after the public display, a technical committee review meeting was also held.
He said following the public display, DoE will provide their feedback on the EIA and the state will amend it accordingly.
“It will be a back-and-forth process with the DoE,” he said.
The infrastructure and transport committee chairman said the state government is committed to pushing the PSR project forward.
“The project will also bring about various benefits to the local fishermen and their families through the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP),’” he said.
He said among the proposed measures in SIMP included ex gratia payments, bigger new boats and higher horsepower engines, co-operative for business opportunities and new fishing jetties for the fishermen.
“The state government has set aside RM100 million to realise these initiatives,” he said.
He said the state will also carry out a PSR Ecology Offset Masterplan (PEOM) to encourage sustainability in the fisheries sector and to mitigate the environmental impact of the project.
The PEOM included the deploying of artificial reefs and fish aggregating devices, planting of mangrove, releasing fish and prawn fry, building eco-shorelines on the perimeter of the reclaimed islands and providing funds for marine and fisheries-related studies.
“The state’s Fishermen Taskforce and Penang Infrastructure Corporation will be overseeing the implementation of these initiatives,” he said.
He added that some of the initiatives such as expanding mangrove forest, giving new boats and engines, seafarers’ training and temporary jetty upgrading works have started even before reclamation works begin.
“The state government will ensure full compliance with all regulatory authority requirements, including approvals for the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan, prior to the reclamation works,” he said.