Concern for Lantau road impact is shared

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 June, 1999, 12:00am

I refer to the letter 'Board must not rush decision' (South China Morning Post, May 31) signed by eight green groups.

The Government takes very seriously the issue of environmental protection and endeavours to minimise the impacts of every road built by all possible means. This is why the option of widening Tung Chung Road to the present highway design and safety standard has been discarded - the encroachment upon 20 hectares of country park land and the severe environmental impacts as a result were grossly unacceptable.

When it was decided that the feasibility of having an additional north-south road link on Lantau should be pursued, the Government considered 17 possible alignment options along the broad corridor between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of all these alignment options has been carried out.

The alignment options were subsequently evaluated against all relevant criteria including environmental impacts, engineering, land uses, and costs/ programmes. The preferred alignment was 200 metres away from the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Tai Ho Stream in Tai Ho Valley (the farthest distance among all possible options) and was considered to have the least impacts to the SSSI. These results were presented to the Country and Marine Parks Board (CMPB) at its meeting on March 23 this year.

Upon the CMPB's request, the Government has prepared further information on the four-season ecological survey and on two of the alignment options (including the preferred alignment) for the CMPB's consideration.

The Government has also refined the alignment options with a view to reducing their visual and environmental impacts further. Additional mitigation measures were proposed to minimise the impacts on Tai Ho Stream.

I would like to emphasise that, even though there is an imminent need for a new north-south road link on Lantau to replace the substandard and potentially hazardous Tung Chung Road, there is no question of the CMPB being pushed into approving this project.

We certainly appreciate the green groups' concerns about the possible environmental impacts that the proposed road link and the Tai Ho development projects would have on Tai Ho Valley.

The EIA of each of these two projects would take into account the proposed works of, and their possible impacts to, the other project.

Y. M. LEE for Commissioner for Transport