Kota Kinabalu: The project to build a liquefied natural gas re-gasification terminal in Lahad Datu by Petronas has an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
Minister of Industrial Development, Datuk Raymond Tan, said there was therefore no basis for the objection from the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA).
He said the ministry had done what was necessary to ensure the project located within the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) is compliant with requirements under the EIA.
"The whole piece of POIC land was approved by the Environment Protection Department before it was developed and any individual industry that wishes to operate in POIC has to be approved first, so we are very concerned about the environment too. POIC has been there with all the compliances for quite a long time already," said Tan.
He was speaking to reporters at the Deepavali Open House at the Likas Sport Complex yesterday hosted by the Sabah MIC.
Tan said the objection from SEPA seemed politically motivated since their campaigns were selective.
He cited SEPA's objection to the Lynas plant in Pahang as an example and questioned why it did not campaign against the coal-fired power plant in Selangor, when the association had strongly objected to the proposal to build a similar plant in Lahad Datu a few years ago.
He said he would not back down on the LNG re-gasification terminal project because the east coast of Sabah is in dire need of a power plant that can supply electricity sufficiently to the area.
After rejecting the proposed coal-fired power plant in 2006 for environmental reasons, he contended that there needed to be a replacement. The government therefore decided to opt for a greener gas-fired power plant instead.
"You cannot just reject without replacement, so the replacement was a gas-fired plant which is clean. Everyone agreed on that. And for the plant to operate, we need gas. This is a 300 megawatt capacity plant, which is huge," he added.
Tan added that he was prepared to explain to SEPA on the importance of the project and its compliance with EIA.
"It took a long time to get Petronas to invest in Sabah, so we should be happy about it," he said.
According to him, besides the power plant and re-gasification terminal, there are more than 20 other big investments in POIC, all of which are EIA approved.
He said the investments would solve the power shortage in the east coast and provide jobs for the people.--Courtesy of New Sabah Times