Tried hard to minimise environmental impact
We refer to the letter from M. Douglas headlined, 'Hooray for the highway, but where's the park?' (South China Morning Post, June 3).
We appreciate your reader's concern and would like to explain the efforts we have taken to protect the environment.
Route 3 is a 30-kilometre-long expressway which includes Western Harbour Crossing, West Kowloon Highway, Tsing Kwai Highway, Cheung Ching Tunnel, Ting Kau Bridge and Route 3 (Country Park Section). Route 3 (Country Park Section) is so named by the Government as it is the northernmost section of the entire Route 3 expressway and passes under Tai Lam Country Park.
It is not a 'country park' highway. However, landscaping and the environment were of prime concern in all phases of the project. Various measures have been taken to minimise disturbance to the natural surrounding area: A comprehensive environmental impact assessment was undertaken before the project began. During and after the route's construction the environmental and ecological impacts were regularly monitored.
The route was specially designed to pass through a tunnel beneath Tai Lam Country Park, to minimise disturbance. Construction work was outside the park boundary.
Along the two sides of the route, wherever possible, the slopes were hydroseeded with grass and tree seeds, and stone planter walls were built to soften the slope profile.
Proactive compensatory planting was carried out with three trees planted off-site for each one felled within the site. In total, the rehabilitation covers an area of 37 hectares.
Due to the pressure on land use in Hong Kong and particularly bearing in mind the hilly topography, slopes adjacent to roads are often formed to their maximum gradient to minimise land take. With Route 3, more virgin land would have been destroyed if the slopes had been cut to a flatter gradient not requiring shotcreting. We agree entirely with your reader's comment that 'the massive hillside destruction' is unsightly. As a means to ameliorate the impact, stone planter walls have been located on the rock slopes and they have been hydroseeded with a mixture of grass and tree seeds. And small trees have just been planted. By the end of the wet season, they will begin to take shape and will certainly 'soften' the barren rocks.
These are only a few of the measures that have been taken to minimise the environmental and visual impact of the works. Throughout the project, we have consistently pursued two objectives - (a) to build a convenient short cut from the north-western New Territories to the rest of Hong Kong; and (b) to protect the natural environment as far as possible. We shall continue to pursue these objectives.
GARY LUK General Manager Route 3 (CPS) Company Limited