The plan to build a second runway and taxiway at the navy-supervised U-tapao airport in Rayong has cleared another hurdle by passing its environmental health impact assessment (EHIA).
The National Environmental Board (NEB), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has approved the EHIA report for the scheme, paving the way for public hearings before the project is submitted to the cabinet for final approval, said Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman to Gen Prawit.
He said the NEB has also approved the EHIA report for three other projects.
They are the first phase of the Grey Line monorail running from Watcharapol to Thong Lor in Bangkok, which covers 19 kilometres; an elderly care facility in Samut Prakan proposed by the Treasury Department and Ramathibodi Hospital; and a high-voltage transmission system link in Tak put forward by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).
Gen Kongcheep said Gen Prawit has also instructed authorities to make sure these schemes receive public input and pay heed to people's concerns.
A source said the navy, which is responsible for the airport project, has hired a consultant to work on the design and will draw up the terms of reference (ToR) so that a bid can be held to find a contractor. That is tentatively scheduled to take place next month.
However, under the draft ToR, the contract to build the 3,505m runway will only be signed after the EHIA has been fully endorsed. Following the NEB's approval of the environmental report, the project will face public hearings and then be submitted to the cabinet for final approval.
The second runway is part of a major upgrade to turn the airport into an aviation hub catering to up to 60 million passengers a year under the state's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project.