LTA puts 1,000-page environmental study online after people complained it was inconvenient to access

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LTA.GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has finally put a 1,000-page environmental impact assessment report online. This comes after members of the public had complained it was very inconvenient to get their hands on the results of the study - undertaken to look at the potential impact of site investigation works of the upcoming Cross Island Line which could cut through the Republic's largest nature reserve.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the LTA said it has done so in response to feedback. Those interested can view the report here

The authority's latest move comes after environmentalists, ecologists and members of public called for the report to be put online.

Although the LTA first gazetted the report on Feb 5, people could look at the report only after the Chinese New Year break, on Feb 10, and by appointment only at the authority's Hampshire Road premises.

In a forum letter to The Straits Times published on Friday, for instance, ST reader Ezra Ho pointed out that many other statutory boards and ministries publish key policy documents and collect feedback online.

He wrote: "So, why is public viewing and feedback for a 1,000-page document like this not done online? How can members of the public meaningfully read, understand and comment on such a document within the timeframe provided?

"With this arrangement, the LTA effectively limits the number of people who can access the EIA, contrary to the spirit of public participation and transparency."

The first phase of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) looked at the potential impact of preliminary site investigation works on the two proposed alignments of the upcoming Cross Island Line.

One alignment cuts through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, while the other is routed around the reserve along Lornie Road instead.

The findings showed that tests to see how a train tunnel can be built through the nature reserve would have a "moderate" impact on plants and animals there, but only if measures to reduce impact are strictly implemented. Otherwise, the soil investigation works for the upcoming Cross Island Line could have a large impact on the highly sensitive parts of the nature reserve. Mitigation strategies to prevent this include the use of enclosures to reduce engine noise and tanks to collect discharge.

Biologist David Tan, from the Love Our MacRitchie Forest volunteer group, said: "I think it's good to see that LTA is responding to public feedback, and I hope that this newfound sensitivity to public concerns will extend to the rest of the public consultation exercise over the alignment of the Cross Island Line as well."