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  Business Times 15 May 07
BCA to stockpile granite in Lim Chu Kang from June
Area's farmers fear move will harm farming, recreation activities there
By Uma Shankari

THE government intends to store some of the granite bought from regional sources in idyllic Lim Chu Kang - a plan that has drawn protests from the farming community in the area.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) told BT that from June, it will start stockpiling granite on a site located between Lim Chu Kang Lane 1 and Neo Tiew Road. BCA did not say how big the site will be, but sources estimate that it is between 60-70 acres.

However, farmers in the area are upset that the stockpiling activities could destroy the rustic charm of the place.

Land in Lim Chu Kang is widely considered to be among the most arable in Singapore, and in recent years, the area has become well-known for its farming and recreational activities. On weekends, for example, many companies organise visits to the farms there for their employees.

'The whole area is bubbling,' said Ivy Singh-Lim, president of the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA). 'And there is a big farming community here. We are worried that all the trucks coming in and out and all the noise will spoil the place.'

BT understands that KCA has written to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which owns the land, about its concerns. SLA then replied, saying that there is a pressing national need to identify a site which can immediately be used to store granite while the authorities await new sources. But KCA still has not been told why Lim Chu Kang was picked, BT understands.

Further discussions between the association and the relevant authorities have been planned.

In response to BT's queries, BCA said the site was chosen after much deliberation about balancing the various needs of land use. 'In land-scarce Singapore, identifying suitable sites for stockpiling purposes is a challenge,' said the BCA. 'The Lim Chu Kang site, which is away from densely built-up urban areas, was one of the selected sites.'

The Ministry for National Development and BCA, in consultation with other government agencies, studied the suitability of several possible sites for stockpiling.

Added BCA: 'We are very mindful of the need to minimise the impact on the surrounding activities and conscious of the proximity of this site to farms in that area.'

The government body said it will implement measures to reduce the impact on the farming and recreation activities there. These include erecting tall fencing with surrounding external buffer, preserving existing vegetation and planting additional trees along the site boundary and imposing restrictions on operating time with no stockpiling works to be carried out on weekends and public holidays.

Another mitigating factor, said BCA, is that the stockpile is meant to be 'static', which means that it is not for immediate drawing upon and replenishing. Therefore, there will be considerably less activity, BCA said.

However, Lim Chu Kang's farming community and regular visitors to the area will have to be convinced that no better site can be found.

More about the Singapore Kranji countryside

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues and recreation in our wild places
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