Updated EIA Handbook to Help Prepare Better Report

KOTA KINABALU, 15 Jun 2023 (The Borneo Post): The third edition of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) handbook published by the Environment Protection Department (EPD) Sabah will help stakeholders to prepare a better report.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who officiated the launching ceremony of the handbook here on Thursday, expressed hope that stakeholders in the state will fully utilize it so that it can help the parties concerned to take care of their environment as they progress with their development.

Liew opined that the stakeholders must study the handbook in order to prevent delay in implementation of projects as in the past there have been incidents of delay because of issues pertaining to the EIA of a project.

State EPD director Vitalis Moduying later told reporters that the handbook was updated and now contains a better method to prepare the EIA report as the format is now by issues and no longer by chapters as it was in the previous edition.

“This way it is easier for consultants to look into the issues and identify mitigation measures. It will also be more transparent as well as provide step by step guidance on how to conduct the EIA, even how to do the baseline.

“The update also included requirements for digital aspects like info graphics and allowing for the use of drones when conducting the EIA report,” he said, adding that the second edition was published in 2005 therefore it is time for a new updated handbook.

“We standardized the format of doing the EIA. In the past the formating was based on chapter, where a chapter would be about the issue and the mitigation issue will be written in another chapter.

“Sometimes it is very difficult to cross reference, but when we have it in issue format, the issue and mitigation measure are discussed in one chapter. This is also to ensure that the process will be transparent, requirements fulfilled and approval will be faster,” he explained.

The consultants will also be guided step by step on how to prepare the report and the quality will be better and assessment will be clearer.

Earlier Liew in her speech said the updated handbook aims to increase the effectiveness of the environmental assessment process through increased transparency and clarity regarding procedures and guidelines on the assessment process, towards further improving the quality and focus of the impact assessment report.

“This handbook was prepared in accordance with the requirements under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Enactment 2002, for continual improvement of the EIA system by EPD. This is also to provide an understanding of the environmental assessment procedures in Sabah, and to guide the preparation and submission of impact assessment reports for review and approval,” she said.

The handbook, according to Liew, has several key updates in terms of procedural and technical aspects, and format to the EIA system such as the preparation of the executive summary in infographic form for clarity, requirement of an EIA study team leader to better manage the EIA process, a new criteria of importance in the EPD impact assessment matrix and a more thorough methodology in the stakeholder engagement plan.

“I hope that this handbook will be able to guide project proponents, environmental consultants and other stakeholders in the environmental assessment process through the preparation of relevant reports to ensure that the environmental assessment system remains a relevant and effective tool for the protection and improvement of the environment in Sabah.

“I am also hopeful that the inclusion of environmental protection considerations at the earliest stage possible, that is, at the identification and planning process, and subsequently at the decision-making process of State policies, plans, programmes and financial allocations, is practised widely by relevant stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of Sabah’s environment,” she said.

Liew also called on environmental consultants, developers, government agencies – to continue working together to take care of the environment in the State within their capacity and role.
Sustainable development can be attained only when we have a common purpose – not only to lead our State towards development through Sabah Maju Jaya initiatives but also to meaningfully and consciously protect our environment, she stressed.

Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2023/06/15/updated-eia-handbook-to-help-prepare-better-report/