LTA's environment report for Cross Island Line now online after complaints that it was difficult to access

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LTA.GOV.SG

Responding to feedback, agency makes its MRT impact assessment more accessible

The report was open to the public, but to get information on a new environment impact assessment (EIA) for an upcoming MRT line, people had to make their way to the Land Transport Authority's Hampshire Road premises to read the 1,000-page hard copy, with no photography allowed.

Yesterday, after complaints that it was too difficult to access the study, which looked at the potential impact of soil works for the Cross Island Line if it cut through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) put it online.

"In response to feedback, LTA has made the EIA report available online at http://bit.ly/1Wv9bnu for interested parties who are unable to come to LTA to view the documents," the authority said in a Facebook post yesterday.

The move was welcomed by environmental groups, scientists and members of the public, who had felt the LTA was not forthcoming with the results of the study. "It is well-received news," said Mr Tony O'Dempsey, a council member of the Nature Society (Singapore), adding that the society had suggested the results be put online during its discussions with the LTA.

Biologist David Tan, from the Love Our MacRitchie Forest volunteer group, said: "I hope that this new-found sensitivity to public concerns will extend to the rest of the public consultation exercise over the alignment of the Cross Island Line as well."

Nature groups are uniting under the March for MacRitchie banner to call for an alternative route skirting around the reserve, instead of going through it.

The report comprises findings from consultancy Environmental Resources Management for the first phase of the EIA. The second phase will be done by year end.

A key finding showed that the preliminary 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. For the alternative route around the reserve, the impact of soil investigation works along Lornie Road was deemed to be "negligible", and "minor" for areas near Venus Drive and a golf course.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'LTA's environment report now online'. Print Edition | Subscribe