With increasing land demand for industrial, commercial and housing developments, land reclamation is a way to ensure sufficient land for Penang’s future growth.
THE Penang South Islands (PSI) is a cluster of three man-made islands off the southern coast of Bayan Lepas near the Penang International Airport.
The first to be reclaimed is Island A, where Phase 1 is master planned to be a self-contained smart township in line with key themes of Penang 2030 – increase liveability, upgrade the economy to raise household incomes, and invest in the built environment to increase resilience.
Built with climate resilience in mind
PSI’s southern location is strategically chosen for its limited environmental sensitivity, as it is in a natural bay area with relatively shallow waters and benign currents, which limits hydraulic impact.
Adopting the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea level rise projections for development planning, PSI will be designed to be resilient against climate change and allow for implementation of mitigation measures progressively if the need indeed arises.
From the start, the reclamation will ensure PSI has a minimum platform level of 3m above the mean sea level (MSL), which exceeds sea level rise (SLR) requirements. Assuming the sea level will rise by 0.75m by 2100, PSI’s minimum platform level will generously allow the development to face sea level surges when storms coincide with high tide. In addition, platform levels inland will be even higher still, to facilitate natural gravity drainage to the sea.
Co-existing with nature as far as possible
Committed to meet all 72 conditions in the project’s approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, the reclamation will minimise impact while maximising the benefits of developing the new island.
During reclamation, silt curtains will be installed to trap suspended particulate matter to safeguard water quality and marine life.
Sand for the reclamation will come from EIA-approved sites off Selangor and Perak.
To improve water flow for channel flushing, the channel between the reclaimed site and the Penang Island’s shoreline crest will be dredged. The deepened channel will also enable fishermen to go out to fish regardless of the tide. The deepened channel will also facilitate navigation for other vessels such as marine patrol boats, water taxis, and 100-seater catamarans.
Improving livelihoods and marine ecosystem
On the socioeconomic front, PSI will transform fishermen’s lives through the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) drawn up based on fishermen feedback and input from related government agencies.
It offers fishermen ex-gratia payments and new boats & engines as well as initiatives that lead to new and additional job prospects, business opportunities, education and training schemes.
Local fishermen in Permatang Tepi Laut, Sungai Batu, Gertak Sanggul and Teluk Kumbar will also get four new jetties equipped with floating pontoons, storage areas, fish stalls, restaurants, boat repair facilities and other community amenities.
The multipurpose jetty in Permatang Tepi Laut has huge tourism potential, being walking distance from the future Permatang Damar Laut LRT station, which is one station from the Penang Airport LRT station. This jetty will have a tourist jetty, alfresco restaurants, river promenade, park, fish market, and shops.
All these initiatives will add value to the fishermen’s trade and profession, presenting them and their family members job and business opportunities that will generate additional income and make life better.
Meanwhile, ecology offset measures will be rolled out to ensure the sustainability of fisheries. Artificial reefs deployed off Pulau Kendi and Pulau Rimau near the PSI site will promote marine life, provide feeding ground for fish, and help prevent coastal erosion, while the release of fish and prawn fry on a regular basis will help maintain fish stock.
Mangroves will also be planted as they are known to provide breeding grounds for marine life protect coastlines from storm surges and tsunamis, and prevent sea water from intruding upstream into rivers. Under the PSI development, there are plans to plant 5ha of mangroves in Teluk Tempoyak before moving on to Pulau Betong, Penaga and Juru.
With its green and socioeconomic initiatives in place, PSI will be a development that fulfils local aspirations to build a resilient and more inclusive Penang for the people’s benefit.
Source : The Edge Markets – 1 June 2021 (Tuesday)