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Residents fail to get temporary Lynas licence revoked

April 12, 2012

The High Court dismisses their leave application, ruling that the court was not the right forum to review the application.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed a leave application filed by 10 local residents to revoke the temporary licence issued by Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Pahang, a Bernama report said.

Justice Rohana Yusuf in her decision said that after having deliberated on the premilinary objection raised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and AELB, the leave application was premature since the matter is pending appeal before Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Maximus Ongkili, and the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC). The AELB has also suspended issuance of temporary licence for the project.

Therefore, she said the court was not the right forum to hear the review application.

She pointed out that five other residents were appealing on the same matter before Ongkili and hearing has been fixed on April 17.

Rohana said the appeal by the five residents before Ongkili was made pursuant to the requirement of the relevent provisions of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and it must be given due deference.

“The court cannot in the face of the appeal process, pending before the minister, now undermine that process…

“If the court were to proceed with its reviewing power… it would be rendering that appeal [process] superfluous…,” she said.

She also said that the leave application was premature and if it granted, it may lead to confusion and embarassment in the event that the findings of the minister differ from that of the court.

Rohana also stressed that the appeal process before the minister and PSC on matters concerning environment and health can be solved, where professionals and experts can be invited to provide their inputs.

Furthermore, she said the first respondent (AELB) via a letter to Lynas dated March 23 this year had suspended the issuance of the licence till the disposal of the appeal.

On Feb 17, the group of 10 residents filed the application, naming the AELB – which oversees the production, application and use of atomic energy and radioactive material – the director-general of Environment Quality, and Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lynas) as respondents.

In the application, the residents sought a certiorari order to quash the AELB’s Jan 30 decision to issue the temporary licence to Lynas Malaysia.

They also applied for an order to prohibit the AELB from issuing any temporary or permanent licence to Lynas, except or until the company presented a detailed evaluation report on the plant’s effects on the environment to the director-general of Environment Quality, and until the report was approved.

LAMP is safe

Meanwhile, Lynas executive chairman Nicholas Curtis said that although the court had ruled in favour of Lynas, the on-going campaign against the project was undermining “both LAMP and Malaysia’s international investment reputation”.

“This concerted political campaign, which is based on misinformation, is sabotaging the science-based, regulatory process established in Malaysia and the confidence in that process,” he said.

He added that the Malaysian government must provide some certainty to local and international businesses that they will not be frustrated by the delays caused by specific groups.

“A country’s strict regulatory standards and investment reputation can be quickly undermined by an environmental activist campaign designed to stifle and frustrate investment by lodging vexatious legal challenges and appeals.

“The Malaysian government must be able to provide certainty to Malaysian and international businesses that they will not be frustrated by a campaign of delay once those companies have completed the pre-defined and rigorous Malaysian government regulatory approvals process,” he said.

Curtis reiterated that the project was safe since it was approved in 2007, saying “every safety box has been ticked” by leading authorities in the field such as International Atomic Energy  Agency (IAEA) and the AELB.

Said Curtis: “LAMP is safe for everyone concerned and we look forward to the day when that will be recognised.”


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