Developers of Johor's Forest City, near Second Link, say environmental concessions were made

KUALA LUMPUR - The developers of Malaysia's controversial Forest City reclamation project, close to Singapore's Tuas Second Link, have insisted that they have made compromises and concessions due to environmental concerns.

Pointing out that their project is on a far smaller scale than reclamation done by Singapore, Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV) boss Othman Yusof told reporters today that the plan, worth RM450 billion (S$169 billion) in gross development value, had been reduced by 30 per cent after a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) and Hydraulic Study.

"Singapore's land reclamation of Tuas, some parts are only 200m from the (maritime border)," Datuk Othman said, adding that Malaysia's Department of Environment (DoE) recommended that Forest City build at least 1km from the border.

"Even the nearest island to the border is 1.1km away," he said.

The original 1,978ha project has been mired in controversy due to concerns from the local population, some of whom fish in the Johor Straits for a living, and from Singapore over damage to the marine environment.

It was reduced to 1,624ha after a hydraulic study forced the company - which the Sultan of Johor reportedly has a significant interest in - to split the development into four islands to protect sea grass and other marine wildlife.

The DEIA approved it in January, then reduced it further to 1,386ha - about three times the size of Singapore's Sentosa Island.

CGPV is 60 per cent owned by one of China's largest property firms Country Garden, while Esplanade Danga 88 - controlled by the Sultan - holds the remaining 40 per cent.

The company expects to launch its first units for sale by the end of this year, and expects the first owners to move in around 2020.