New law aims to protect Phang Nga

PHANG NGA: The government is debating a new law to preserve and enhance the environment in Phang Nga.

The Chief of the Phang Nga Provincial Office of Natural Resources and Environment, Jarin Inkeaw, said the law has been under consideration by the Office of the Council of State (OCS) since September. It will have to be presented to the Cabinet for approval before it can be enforced.

The proposed legislation would preserve land alongside Highway 4 (Phetkasem Rd) between Kuraburi district and Thapput distict, and the sea between these two points, for a distance of 3 km from the shore. The law would apply also to three islands off Phang Nga – Koh Phra Thong, Koh Ra and Koh Yao.

The law would prohibit activies which could harm the environment in this area, such as the development of chemical factories, slaughterhouses and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) refilling stations and animal farming.

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The law specifies several aims, including the conservation of sea grass; preservation of mangrove forest; protection of sea turtle egg-laying sites; conservation of Koh Yao; and the protection of areas the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) deems suitable for eco-tourism.

K. Jurin said building and development in the area would be controlled by the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning, in line with a law that have been in force since 1995.

This law prohibits the erection of any building along beaches within 30 meters of the highest tide level, and states that any building between 30m and 75m from the sea may not be more than six metres high.

Within 75m and 150m of the sea, the height of buildings may not be more than 12m, and between 150m and 300m from the sea, buildings may be no more than 45 metres high.

Developers must get permission from the the Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) before starting any project, and if the development is to be a hotel with more than 80 rooms, the proposed development must be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to make sure it will not damage surrounding areas.

The President of Phang Nga Tourist Association, Anupong Sa-Nguannam, said people in Phang Nga were waiting to see exactly what the new law would mean and the effect it would have on tourism in Phang Nga.

The proposed law makes no mention of the controversial “Landbridge” oil pipeline project, which would require an oil platform to be built in the sea off the coast of Phang Nga. Critics argue against the project on the grounds that any oil leak would severely damage the environment for miles around.

The proposal also makes no mention of a plan to built an airport on Koh Phra Tong.(See story here)

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