SINGAPORE – From next year, environmental consultants who assess the impact of development works on an area’s plant and animal life will be managed by the National Parks Board (NParks) instead of the developers themselves.

This move to centralise environmental impact assessments (EIAs) will enable NParks to work more closely with the consultants to raise the quality and rigour of their work and ensure urban developments are carried out in a sustainable manner.

A key aim is to prevent miscommunication or mishaps, such as clearing of woodland that could lead to environmental damage and loss of wildlife. 

“In the past, the developers will manage the consultants and they check back with us… but now we are right in the centre of the action and this will certainly reduce miscommunication or sometimes (parties) forgetting to update us on certain key EIA results,” said Mr Ryan Lee, group director of NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre.

The shift involves standardising methods for conducting the wildlife surveys, said NParks on Saturday (Aug 27). Instead of developers calling their own EIA tenders, NParks will have a centralised tender that consultants can respond to, and it will also manage them directly on behalf of the developers.

This will also allow NParks to gather information from various environmental impact studies to create a database that will provide resources for long-term monitoring and research of the areas studied, and how the areas connect to one another.

This move will first be piloted early next year for new Housing Board (HDB) and JTC projects that require EIAs, before deciding to expand this to all government projects, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“Our assessment is that centralising the management of EIA consultancy services under NParks has many benefits, and will raise standards across the industry.”

Mr Ryan Lee said NParks will prepare the tender specifications in consultation with the developers and other agencies. The consultants will report to NParks and the developers on their progress.

This change in the management of EIA services is part of a three-pronged review on the strengthening of processes – which started early last year.

The first part involved the creation of tools and maps to have a comprehensive picture of Singapore’s green spaces and habitats, and how they connect to one another.

The project – which was completed in June last year – also identified routes that wildlife could take to get from one green patch to another.

The second part refers to the EIA consultancy services being managed under NParks.

In the third area under review, the authorities will explore using technology in the built environment sector and how it can be applied to project management.