GEORGE TOWN: The Penang State Government will resubmit the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project to the Department of Environment (DOE) says State Infrastructure and Transport Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari (pix).

He said the project was for the state’s economic recovery post-Covid-19, and he hoped it could be implemented for the benefit of the people.

“Apart from that, the State Executive Council which convened yesterday, has agreed to take legal action by filing a judicial review on the decision of the DOE Appeals Board, (as) it resulted in the revocation of the EIA approval for the PSR.

He said the state government took note that the decision was only based on non-compliance with the planning process, and not on substantive arguments or ‘merits of the case’.

Zairil said according to the written decision of the Appeals Board, the EIA report was found not to have met the requirements of Section 34A (4) (a) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, because the Penang State Structure Plan 2030 (RSN2030) was not yet in force when the EIA approval was given.

He said the state government did not agree with the decision of the Appeals Board, and was of the opinion that all planning processes and procedures and necessary approvals had been complied with, including the approval of RSN2030 by the State Authority through the State Planning Committee (SPC) on March 14, 2019 and subsequent tabling to the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) on April 18, 2019.

“Both compliances are deemed sufficient for the requirements of Section 34A (4) (a) which stipulates that the project must be in line with the ‘development plan or physical plan approved by the relevant approving authority’.

“Therefore, the approval given by the DOE director-general on June 15, 2019 does not conflict at all with the requirements of the Act,“ he said.

On Sept 8, three members of the DOE Appeals Board led by Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob set aside the EIA approval for the project. Two other members of the board are Prof Datuk Dr Mazlin Mokhtar and Associate Professor Dr Ramdzani Abdullah.

The decision was made following an appeal filed by Sungai Batu Fishermen Unit chief Zakaria Ismail, on July 29, 2019, under Section 35 (1) (e) of the Environmental Quality Act.

The PSR project covering 17 sq km involves the development of three man-made islands covering an area of 1,700 hectares in the waters off Permatang Damar Laut, near Bayan Lepas. which was introduced as a funding module of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) worth about RM46 billion.- Bernama