Amata Corporation, Thailand's major developer and manager of factory estates, is confident the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its 3,500-rai expansion will be approved in 2013, ending a long dispute with communities. The company has been struggling to receive EIA approval due to ongoing protests by area residents who claim the move will affect their farming area.
"I'm not worried about environmental issues. I believe the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) will approve the EIA since we've done everything required of us," Viboon Kromadit, Amata's director and chief marketing officer said.
The company is now focused on the 10th phase of development for its Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate in Chon Buri province.
This particular phase, which went through its third public hearing in June 2012, involves a 1,500-rai expansion.
It is also developing a zone B at the estate, which now has a combined area of 8,255 rai.
About 2,000 rai will be developed first for zone B, the last public hearing for which was held in December 2011, although Onep wants more details.
Mr Viboon said he is confident the company will reach this year's goal of 3,000 rai in land sales, up from 2,800 rai last year.
But Sarayoot Sonraksa, who lives near the estate, said the local communities are against Amata's expansion, as it will threaten food security. He claimed the estate's location is home to much of the country's freshwater fish, while the land is used to grow Hom Mali rice.
"If existing problems are not resolved, I see no good reason to allow Amata's expansion," said Mr Sarayoot.
He claimed those expressing a favourable view of the expansion during last year's public hearing, which he attended, were politicians.
Meanwhile, Amata yesterday signed a contract with the SET-listed Ticon Industrial Connection Plc to sell 226 rai of land in the Amata City and Amata Nakorn industrial estates to Ticon to build factories for rent.
The factories will be completed in next year's fourth quarter.
Ticon managing director Virapan Pulges said the new land will allow the company to rent out an additional 121,350 square metres of factory space.
It previously bought 737 rai from Amata for additional leasing area of 292,800 sq m and 72,125 sq m in Amata Nakorn and Amata City, respectively.
At present, Ticon has 1.32 million sq m of factory space for rent nationwide.
Shares of AMATA closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 17.20 baht, down 50 satang, in trade worth 154 million baht.
TICON closed at 18 baht, up 30 satang, in trade worth 61.4 million baht.