Recently, Second Minister for the Ministry of National Development Desmond Lee gave a speech at the Committee of Supply Debate, touching on issues of resilience in our country. Read the full speech here.
On the topic of climate resilience, Minister Lee’s statement on the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) stands as particularly relevant to the Cross Island Line issue.
Here’s what Minister Lee said:
“At the same time, in response to Mr Louis Ng’s question, we work to ensure that when development does take place, proposals are thoroughly examined for any potential environmental impacts, among other assessments. Our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) framework covers all Nature Reserves, Nature Areas, other sensitive natural areas, as well as marine, and coastal areas. Those who propose development close to these areas are required to consult our technical agencies on their plans together with URA and MND. These technical agencies include the National Parks Board. We take a prudent approach to this consultation. If we have reason to believe that a project may significantly impact the environment, then the developer will be asked by technical agencies to conduct a further environmental study.
We would like to assure the Member that studies are undertaken in an independent and objective manner by specialists who have every interest to maintain their professional standing. And the study reports are also carefully assessed by the technical agencies such as NParks, AVA, MPA, and NEA, to ensure their adequacy. In addition, to reiterate my previous answer to Members’ question in this House, we will make the findings of such Environmental Impact Assessments publicly available, unless specific considerations require otherwise.
That said, our review of the EIA framework is ongoing. MND and the technical agencies are studying how best to strengthen our policies and processes, to ensure the framework remains robust for the future.”
Read more: Parliament: Environment studies to be made public unless there are security concerns – The Straits Times
Why this matters for MacRitchie Forest
It is commendable that the government is making the EIA process more transparent, so that everyone can play a part in ensuring future developments do not come at a cost to our natural environment.
Currently, studies are being done to determine the immediate and long-term impacts of tunneling an MRT line under or around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Let’s call upon the government to uphold a high standard of transparency and accountability in sharing their results, analysis and decisions with the public.