SINGAPORE: Consultants engaged in assessing the environmental impact of development work on an area’s biodiversity will be centrally managed by the National Parks Board (NParks) rather than the developers from 2023 onwards.
Desmond Lee, announcing this on Saturday (Aug. 27), said authorities will test this approach with new Housing and Development Board (HDB) and JTC development projects that require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“This move will further strengthen the EIA framework by improving industry-wide standards and consolidating information on Singapore’s biodiversity,” NParks said in a press release.
Within the current EIA framework, proposed development projects that are close to sensitive natural areas, sea or coastal areas or have potential cross-border impacts undergo an in-depth consultation process.
During this process, technical bodies determine whether an EIA is required.
An EIA usually consists of a baseline measurement, assessment of the environmental impact and the preparation of mitigating measures, as well as an environmental management and monitoring plan.
Developers are required to consult the relevant technical bodies on the scope of the EIA and engage an advisor to conduct studies.
They must also share the report with relevant authorities and the public.
Going forward, NParks said it will engage EIA consultants through a centralized tender to aggregate demand.
It will also direct the advisors directly on behalf of the agencies.
“This will enable NParks to work more closely with the consultants to standardize research methodologies and develop industry best practice guidelines,” the agency said.
It added that information from various EIAs will be consolidated into a centralized biodiversity database to facilitate long-term monitoring and research.
The move will reduce the time it takes for development agencies to issue tenders and consultants preparing bids for each project, NParks said.
“This will translate into potential time and cost savings by minimizing duplication of work,” it added.
The new approach by managing consultants follows discussions last year about how authorities will strengthen the EIA framework after forest areas in Kranji were mistakenly cleared before an environmental study was completed.
Mr Lee said authorities will later decide whether to introduce the new approach involving NParks in all government projects.
“We remain committed to protecting our natural heritage and transforming Singapore into a city in nature,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday.