DOE issues stop-work order to quarry works at Penang housing project

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 20 — The Penang Department of Environment (DoE) today issued a stop-work order to the developers of a housing project in Persiaran Kelicap, Bayan Lepas, near here, to halt unapproved quarry works at the project site with immediate effect.

Its director, Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said the housing developer and quarry operator also faced stern action including being taken to court after they were found to be still carrying out quarry-related activities after the DOE’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval period expired on Dec 7 and was not renewed by the Penang DOE.

“The site was originally approved for a contoured housing project on Aug 18, 1994. However, the project was delayed several times, and the developer through their contractor then submitted an application to carry out quarry works. The application was approved on Oct 3, 2013 taking into account the remote distance of the housing project at that time.

“The quarrying period allowed was for three years and ended on Oct 31, 2016, however, the developer continued applying for an extension of the quarrying period and it had been approved three times, namely in 2016, 2018, and most recently on Dec 7, 2021,” she said in a statement today.

She said the application for the extension of the quarry works could no longer be considered by the DOE due to the current insufficient buffer zone, which triggered dozens of complaints by locals related to the issue of tremors, noise, dust, rubble and flying rocks.

Sharifah Zakiah said her team’s investigations found that the residents’ complaints were based on the quarry’s current distance to the nearest housing area which is around 70 metres and that the DOE was also of the view that the developer had been given ample opportunity to plan and implement the project.

She said even after the quarry operation was not extended, the DOE still received complaints from the nearby residents that the quarry was still in operation and causing a disturbance.

She said that her team used drones and an on-site investigation on Feb 14 and found that the site was still being used to carry out stone-crushing activities and the use of water cannons, which posed a nuisance to nearby residents.

Sharifah Zakiah said the developer and its quarry contractor were then called to the Penang DOE and advised to abide by its instructions not to carry out quarrying activities after the EIA quarry approval period had expired, However, the developer was allowed to continue the EIA-approved housing activities at the same site.

“In the meeting on Feb 18, the developer had made a recommendation to take steps to comply with the directive but yesterday complaints were still received and our investigation found that there were still quarrying activities going on at the site which caused noise disturbances to nearby residents,” she said.

In this regard, Sharifah Zakiah said that today a notice of instruction by hand was submitted by her to the developer directing that all quarrying activities and sub-activities be stopped immediately, and her team is also in the process of preparing investigation papers to bring the developers and contractors to court for offences under Section 34 A, Section 31 and Section 38 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

According to her, the notice also directs the developer to submit an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) report for housing activities according to the contour within six months from the date of the notice if it is still interested in carrying out housing activities and if no EMP report is submitted within the stipulated period, the developer is deemed not interested to continue housing activities.

“Any application in the future will be subject to the need to conduct a new EIA study and no work is allowed to be carried out on-site until the EMP is submitted and confirmed by the Penang DOE,” she added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency