Tree felling unavoidable

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 December, 1998, 12:00am

I refer to the letter headlined, 'Highways Department also mauls countryside', by M. Stevens, which appeared in the South China Morning Post, on December 1.

This department is carrying out routine vegetation trimming along the expressway between Fanling and Hong Lok Yuen and also carrying out the construction of a noise barrier at this location.

The routine vegetation trimming is a regular maintenance operation to trim tree branches that overhang traffic lanes. Such overhanging branches may be hazardous to high vehicles or other vehicles in windy conditions or when there is heavy rain.

Tree branches and bushes and shrubs that block the sight-line distance required for motorists to observe the roadside traffic signs, also have to be pruned, in order to improve safety on expressways.

The noise barrier is one of a series of barriers to be built along the Tolo Highway/Fanling Highway as noise mitigation measures. These measures were recommended following a noise impact assessment study related to the round-the-clock opening of Lok Ma Chau border crossing.

As the noise barrier is situated in a strip of narrow verge between the Fanling Highway and the adjacent parallel service road, the removal of vegetation including trees and shrubs on the verge is unavoidable.

Proper procedures have been followed regarding the removal of the vegetation. Approval has been obtained from the authorised department for the removal of the trees in the construction area. It is estimated that the noise barrier will be completed by May of next year and there will be replacement plantings, where appropriate, after work on the barrier is complete.

LUCY HO SAU-PING Senior Engineer/Highways Complaints Highways Department