Committee of Supply Cuts by YJJ on Ministry of National Development
Environment Impact Analysis
Much has been said about infrastructure in the Land Use Plan. Livability is not just about buildable infrastructure. Sustainability of our natural habitat is also important.
Apart from being a habitat for flora and fauna, natural environments alleviate drainage issues by retaining water and slowing surface runoff, and can moderate ambient temperatures. The 2012 Expert Panel on Drainage Design and Flood Prevention Measures found that large-scale rapid urbanization is a key contributor to the recent increase of flooding.
A comprehensive environmental impact assessment (or EIA) should precede major developments. Many countries already require EIA before commencement of projects. By alerting us to the potential hazards that may arise, precautionary measures can be taken. An example is the urbanization of a grass knoll to house Ion Orchard. Preventive measures could have been taken if nearby complexes and authorities were alerted to potential problems arising from the development.
Another effect of urbanization is the increase in ground temperatures due to the loss of trees. EIAs can help us better understand this issue, and help planners plan the siting and even method of development to minimise this.
The Nature Society of Singapore has noted that Singapore has a higher carbon footprint than other developed countries. Naturally wooded areas help absorb this carbon. If more naturally wooded areas like Bukit Brown and Pasir Ris wetlands go away, our carbon footprint may become larger.
I hope EIA can be a pre-condition for any major development and findings made available to the public.