PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya has in principle agreed not to proceed with the construction of the new Tioman International Airport involving reclamation in Pulau Tioman, says Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
"The Cabinet meeting has, in principle, agreed not to proceed with the construction of the new Tioman International Airport involving 76% sea reclamation area,” the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister said in a statement Wednesday (Aug 9).
He said the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry took note of the worries raised due to reclamation of marine protected areas that will result in the destruction of coral reefs which are important habitats for various species of marine life and are also the main attraction of Tioman Island.
Pulau Tioman, which is gazetted as a marine park, also has natural rainforests and is home to a variety of wildlife species with part of the island designated as a wildlife reserve.
"Although the intention of building a new airport is to attract more tourists, the construction of the new airport will damage the natural attractions of Pulau Tioman, which will lead to unsustainable tourism," said Nik Nazmi.
He said the Ministry, through the Environment Department, has completed the initial display process for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the "Proposed Development of a New Airport on Tioman Island for Flight Operations Code 4C Covering an Area of 460.50 Acres, Tioman, Rompin District, Pahang Darul Makmur".
The EIA report has been exhibited for 30 days starting from June 21 to July 20, 2023, and the public has also submitted a total of 1,412 public comments from June 21 to August 4, he said.
The EIA Technical Committee (EIATRC) meeting held on Thursday found that the proposed new airport has the potential to have a very significant negative impact on the quality of the environment, particularly to sensitive receptors around Tioman Island, including marine ecology if continued, he said.
Nik Nazmi said the Ministry believes the government's decision not to proceed with the proposed development of the airport is in line with its mission which prioritises the preservation, conservation and optimal and responsible use of natural resources and the environment.
"This decision also indirectly reflects the government's efforts in balancing the speed of development with environmental sustainability in order to achieve sustainability and ensure the well-being of the country," he said.
On April 27, 2003, then second finance minister the late Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said that construction of the new airport project would start that year as well, as soon as the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study was completed, but on March 7, 2009, the media reported that the proposal was cancelled.
However, at the presentation of Budget 2018, the government announced that it would carry out a study on the construction of a new airport on the resort island.
The construction of the new airport was proposed in Kampung Genting with half of the runway in water, while part of it is on land for large-sized airplanes such as Boeing 737 to land since the existing airport operating in Kampung Tekek only handles special charter flights and only carries about 12 passengers at a time. - Bernama