Green victory over highway route

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 August, 1995, 12:00am

GREEN groups have scored a partial victory after government road engineers adjusted plans for Route 3 to protect Country Park wetland areas near Au Tau in the New Territories.

The changes have been approved by the Governor-in-Council to allow work on this second section to start in December. The highway, due for completion in late 1998, will be a vital link from Kwai Chung port, past Ting Kau and Yuen Long, to the border.

Highways Department chief engineer David English agreed the route of the road had been changed following complaints by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Several viaducts will be replaced with landscaped earth and rock embankments, which should be less noticeable. The alignment of slip roads has also been changed, reducing the amount of land needed for construction.

Mr English said the changes would probably make the highway cheaper to build, but taxpayers would feel no benefit because the road was to be built and maintained by a private concession company.

'FoE objected to the amount of wetland [affected]. We moved the road slightly to avoid the wetland areas. We think we have got a more environmentally friendly scheme,' said Mr English.

WWF campaigner Ken Chu Wing-hing welcomed the improvements, but said the Highways Department had ignored other measures proposed by the Advisory Council on the Environment when it approved the project.