Sep 12, 2013

    Study on new MRT line's impact on nature

    THE environmental impact on a portion of a nature reserve due to the construction of the Cross-Island MRT line (CRL) will be determined in an assessment due to be completed in 2016.

    The Government yesterday said it will conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment to ascertain how various alignments could affect the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

    The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it will call a tender in the first quarter of next year to engage a consultant to carry out the assessment.

    The final alignment of the CRL will consider all factors, such as connectivity, travel times, environmental impact, implications to developments in the vicinity, and costs.

    This was revealed at a media briefing held by LTA at its Hampshire Road headquarters yesterday.

    The 50km line, announced in January as part of the Government's Land Use Plan, will straddle the breadth of Singapore, from Jurong to Tampines. It is targeted for completion by 2030.

    In July, the Nature Society (Singapore) - NSS - released a 40-page position paper, suggesting the use of alternative routes to skirt the nature reserve, which the line appears to pass through.

    The NSS had raised concerns over the environmental damage that may be caused by the soil investigations and tunnelling required for the construction of the line.

    NSS spokesman Tony O'Dempsey told My Paper yesterday that excavations could lead to stream siltation, or water pollution by sediments. He fears that this may happen in "one of the most pristine stream systems in the reserve, where critically endangered stream fauna are at peril of being lost forever".

    Yesterday, the LTA said that it had held several meetings in the last three months with nature and environmental groups to seek their views on the project.

    The groups have agreed to provide assistance to scope the assessment, added the LTA.

    "With the assessment, the LTA can properly identify real risks posed to the environment by the construction of the line," said Mr O'Dempsey.

    He added that it was a first time, to his knowledge, that non-government stakeholders are included in such a process.

    However, residents in the Thomson area have voiced their concerns over the alternative routes proposed by the groups, which may affect their homes, said the LTA.

    LTA chief executive Chew Hock Yong said: "A new MRT line will impact many different stakeholders, all of whom have views that we will need to consider."

    But he added that the findings from the assessment and subsequent engineering feasibility study will guide the LTA to "make a considered decision on which option best serves the interests of the public".