JOHOR BARU, Malaysia - A massive reclamation project to create an island in the Strait of Johor does not need environment clearance as the area is not more than 50 acres, authorities have said.
The project called Forest City for luxury homes - planned by China property developer Country Garden Holdings and a Johor government company, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor - came under scrutiny after neighbouring Singapore feared it would have a possible impact on the island republic.
"As the area reclaimed is not more than 50 acres, it does not require the EIA report," Director of Malaysia's Department of Environment (DOE) Mokhtar Abdul Majib told Bernama on Monday.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is required for projects above 50 acres of land, by the Forest City project area measures only 49 acres, he said.
Mr Mokhtar said the reclamation work began in early March and were expected to be completed within eight months.
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs had expressed concern last week over the possibility of cross border effects on the republic as a result of the real estate development project at the Johor Straits. It said there was an international responsibility on the part of the Malaysian authorities and Singapore to cooperate on this matter and asked Malaysia to submit information of the reclamation work concerned.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also wrote to his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, about the project, after two diplomatic notes on the matter were sent to Malaysia's Foreign Ministry last month, The Star newspaper had reported. A third note was handed to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wahid Omar when he visited Singapore recently, it added.
The idea to create a 2,000ha island - nearly three times the size of Ang Mo Kio estate - will take 30 years to complete, Mr Kayson Yuen, Country Garden's regional president for the project, told the paper. A project map showed part of the man-made island under the Second Link, which connects Tuas in Singapore to Johor.