Consultants doing EIAs should report to the authorities

File photo showing people walking on a trail along Rifle Range Link.
File photo showing people walking on a trail along Rifle Range Link.PHOTO: ST FILE

In recent years, a number of issues have arisen surrounding development in or around forests in Singapore, which may be cleared for that purpose.

The development is generally done after an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is aimed at determining the conservation and environmental value of a forest, how it may be affected by the particular development, and potential ways to mitigate these effects.

These EIAs are done by ostensibly independent consultants.

But while these consultants are not part of the organisation that commissioned the EIA, they are paid by the client, report regularly to the client, and may be asked by the client to modify the final report before it is submitted to the relevant environmental authorities.

To ensure the actual independence of these consultants, perhaps they should instead report directly to the environmental authorities who review the final report.

Lahiru Wijedasa

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Consultants doing EIAs should report to the authorities'. Print Edition | Subscribe