Developers call for clearer environmental reports

Developers call for clearer environmental reports

Condo developers are urging environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports to be reviewed based on clear standards, aiming to reduce subjective judgements because a delayed assessment process increases development costs.

Ditawat Issara, assistant managing director of SET-listed Charn Issara Development, said when evaluating EIA reports, some EIA committees occasionally raise new issues that are situational or unique.

"The EIA report for our condo project in Hua Hin, submitted for consideration in 2021, was returned based on pandemic-related waste segregation issues. We adhered to the requirements and resubmitted it," he said.

The practice of virus-free waste separation was not implemented in projects situated in different areas or recent projects as this was only a concern of a few committee members, said Mr Ditawat.

"Unclear regulations and making personal judgements leads to project delays, financial losses and wasted time," he said.

"The new issue is shading and wind obstruction, though the Building Control Act has measures to control this."

Mr Ditawat suggested clear and standardised regulations, rather than alterations that vary with each rotating committee.

"This makes us reluctant to develop high-rise buildings because of the issues involved," he said.

"A clear EIA will help to streamline the work process and prevent subsequent issues."

Opas Sripayak, chief executive and managing director of L.P.N. Development Plc, said developers are not afraid of regulations, they merely want clarity to ensure compliance and prevent time wasted on rectifications.

Numerous complaints have been lodged regarding EIA reports for high-rise building projects, especially by people living in the project vicinity who are seeking to protect their rights.

Given these complaints, the EIA committees are more cautious in their consideration and evaluation of EIA reports, Mr Opas said.

"The time taken to consider EIA reports has been stretched from four months to 11 months. If any adjustments are needed, this requires an additional 11 months," he said.

Mr Opas said the prolonged EIA report approval process led to higher development costs for high-rise condo projects.

In response, L.P.N. shifted its focus to low-rise housing projects and plans to await EIA report approvals before launching high-rise condos to mitigate the risk of construction delays, he said.

"As land costs in the city are high, particularly near a mass transit station, it's necessary to develop high-rise buildings," Mr Opas said.

"However, developing high-rise buildings without casting shadows or obstructing the wind of neighbours is difficult."

He said EIA regulations should not have limitations regarding shade or wind blockage because if the city plan allows the construction of high-rise buildings, developers should be able to build them.

Last month, the Central Administrative Court revoked a construction permit and EIA report for The 125 Sathorn, a luxury condo project on Bangkok's Sathon Road, because its building design was larger than permitted by law.

The lawsuit was filed by a juristic person and condo unit owners of The Met, a condo project behind The 125 Sathorn, against relevant state agencies that approved the EIA report and a construction permit.

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