A Case Study of the Environmental Impact Assessment Legislation in Sarawak, Malaysia
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a planning tool used to identify, predict, evaluate and mitigate the environmental effects of development projects. In Sarawak, EIA is governed by the both the State and the Federal EIA Orders. This leads to ambivalence in determining the legislation under which a prescribed activity demanding an EIA falls. This case study aims to investigate the implications associated with the coexistence of both EIA Orders in the state of Sarawak from the viewpoints of practicing environmental consultants. The case study reviews the EIA legislations governing EIA practices in the State and includes a qualitative survey involving practicing EIA consultants to gather feedback on the implications associated with the EIA practices and recommendations to resolve the problems identified. The study shows that even though a prescribed activity is defined by the EIA legislations, different stages of the prescribed activity eventually become prescribed activities on their own, which demand fulfillment of different EIA legislation. Unclear demarcation of EIA jurisdiction and different requirements on the scope of an EIA particularly for earthworks also contribute to doubts among environmental consultants interviewed. Consultation, involvement and effective communication with environmental protection as priority are crucial to minimize any uncertainty resulted from co-implementation of both the EIA legislations. Future study can look into comparing perceptions on the effectiveness of the State and the Federal EIA legislations. The case study delves into a crucial issue related to EIA practices in Sarawak, Malaysia which has persisted without being formally addressed in any previous studies.
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