Look at the optimism about getting approval for this huge 760-acre land reclamation project, never mind that it is still at the EIA stage. This project is linked to the tunnel-land swap deal, as the developer is supposed to surrender land to the state government, which in turn is supposed to compensate the tunnel developer. So how not to approve Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2?
This is the problem with swap deals. Everything hinges upon the appropriate regulatory approvals being obtained, whereas these approvals are not supposed to be merely a formality. In this case, if for some reason the land reclamation is rejected for environmental reasons, how is the state going to find the land to compensate the tunnel developer?
Have the fisher folks’ concerns been addressed? What about the impact of possible siltation in surrounding areas? It is good that there is going to be a hydro-flow study, but this study must be undertaken by internationally acknowledged experts and they must be truly independent.
Meanwhile, work is reportedly set to start in the second half of 2014.
Reclamation near Gurney Drive on track to start this year, says report
First Published: 7:01am, Jan 22, 2014
Last Updated: 7:05am, Jan 22, 2014
by Himanshu Bhatt
GEORGE TOWN (Jan 22): A planned gigantic 760-acre reclamation project off Sri Tanjung Pinang, near Gurney Drive, is on track to begin in the second half of this year.
The affirmation follows the submission of the crucial Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) for the project to the Department of Environment just last week, on Jan 13, for approval.
Touted to have a whopping gross development value of RM25 billion, this Sri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 (STP2) would be one of the biggest single projects, in terms of size and monetary worth, in Malaysia.
According to a report by investment research firm AmResearch Sdn Bhd, reclamation works for STP2 undertaken by Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) are still on track to begin in the second half of 2014, following the regulatory approval and tendering process.
In its company report on E&O released on Jan 16, it described the project as E&O’s “near-term catalyst” and said that the planned reclamation is “coming along well.”
It also cited “company visit” as the rationale for the report.
Revealing that the DEIA report has been submitted for approval, the report added: “The next hurdle for the crystallisation of STP2 is the regulatory approval of the DEIA before land reclamation can commence.”
“Looking at the timeline (including the 45 days public display of the DEIA report), management highlighted that the regulatory approval is likely to be granted in the second quarter of 2014,” the report said.
Avoiding environmental fiasco like Gurney Drive
When contacted, state executive councillor for the environment, Phee Boon Poh, told fz.com that the developer is required to come up with a study of the reclamation’s impact on the “total hydro-flow system” of the seas around Penang.
He pointed out that Gurney Drive, whose once-pristine shoreline is now full of mud, was badly affected by changing tides after the reclamation of the first phase, measuring 240 acres, was done a decade ago.
The state government wants to avoid such a situation from happening again elsewhere.
“We want a study of total hydro-flow system, which means it must cover effect on tides around the whole island and not just around that development area,” he said.
He added that the idea of building a wave-breaker at the northern section of the Penang Channel, to mitigate any adverse effect of the reclamation, has also been brought up.
The part of the channel is important as it is a key route for shipping for the Penang Port.
Reclamation linked to funding for tunnel
The plans for STP2 were unveiled during a public hearing on August 24 last year.
It was then announced that it would constitute 891 acres of total reclaimed land, including 20% set aside for government reserve.
It should be noted that the STP2 land reclamation is very much tied to the funding mechanism for the Penang government’s planned 6.5km undersea tunnel from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam in Butterworth.
E&O is required to surrender 110 acres to the Penang government after STP2 is reclaimed. This was revealed during the hearing.
This is very important because the state’s agreement with the tunnel developer, Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd, includes allowing it a 30-year concession on the tunnel – and giving 110 acres of net land to the company.
Details of project in brief
Based on information given at the hearing, the STP2 area is targeted to have about 12,000 new homes, in addition to mixed-use commercial spaces – retail units, offices, tourism outlets and so on – occupying some 28.45 million sq ft.
A new kidney-shaped island measuring some 760 acres will emerge on the sea directly in front of Straits Quay.
The present Gurney Drive would be reclaimed by 131 acres, pushing the coast further out by about 80m to 100m from where it currently is.
The project is being undertaken by Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd in which the state government has a share.
The company is jointly owned by E&O Property (Penang) with a 78.8% stake, and the Penang government with 21.2%. E&O Property is a subsidiary of Eastern and Oriental Bhd (E&O).
The project obtained an approval-in principal from the Penang government in April 2011 for the proposed reclamation of 760 acres of the STP2.
Civic and environmental groups have expressed anxiety over the project’s impact on congestion and the environment in Penang.
About 470 fishermen – from Tanjung Tokong, Gurney Drive, Pantai Paramount and Bagan Jermal – are expected to be impacted by the project.