KUALA LUMPUR: Residents affected by high-impact projects such as coastal reclamation works will have an official platform to air their views, under amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act.
Malaysian Association of Social Impact Assessment president Datin Paduka Dr Dahlia Rosly said public participation was a vital part of any social impact assessment (SIA) report, which is needed by state and federal governments before going ahead with such projects.
“From the report, we can engage with the community on how they feel and then mitigate the social impact on those affected.
“It will be more people-centric. Communities can give their input to project developers,” she said in an interview.
Under the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday, federal and state departments and agencies must seek the advice of the National Physical Planning Council before carrying out coastal reclamation and national infrastructure projects.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the amendment included a new section for mandatory SIA reports to be submitted for planning approval.
Dahlia, a former Town and Country Planning Department director-general, said the SIA’s recommendations could include reducing potential negative impacts through changes in the design or operations of the project.
“We can also determine compensation for the affected groups or provide other solutions for such problems, including the substitution of facilities, resources or opportunities,” she said.
Among the criteria for projects requiring a detailed SIA report, as stated under Section 22 2(A) of the Town and Country Planning Act, is the development of a new township for populations exceeding 10,000 or an area covering over 100ha.
This includes development projects that affect hilltops or hillslopes.
She said subsection 22 (2B) of the Act defines national infrastructure works as those involving airports, seaports, railway lines and highways. National utility works would be those related to the building of dams, main power stations and toxic waste disposal sites.