16-year battle in vain to get noise barriers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 January, 2007, 12:00am

A senior district councillor has fought a 16-year battle with the government to have noise barriers installed on the West Kowloon Corridor.

'Ever since I became a district councillor 16 years ago, I have kept asking the government to install noise barriers to improve conditions for people living next to the West Kowloon Corridor, but they keep refusing, citing technical problems and price issues,' Yau Tsim Mong District Council chairman Henry Chan Man-yu said.

He estimated about 10,000 families were seriously affected by noise and air pollution caused by the highway, which cuts across Tai Kok Tsui.

'Their complaints are mainly about being unable to open windows and suffering from respiratory diseases,' Mr Chan said.

The distance between some families and the highway was only 2 metres, he said.

The Environmental Protection Department said the highway was too old to install noise barriers.

'The space between the highway and the other buildings is too narrow to allow us to construct new structures. Besides, new structures in a narrow space will hamper fire safety,' a department spokeswoman said.

Leung Kong-yui, a transport specialist and member of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, said the problems plaguing Tai Kok Tsui residents were shared by many people living close to highways in the city.

Such highways were built before 1998, when the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance was implemented, making mitigation measures mandatory where roads are built close to homes.

Mr Leung said many residents of Mei Foo Sun Chuen suffered similar noise and air pollution problems from Lai Chi Kok Road.

'Since the implementation of the EIA ordinance, there must be an environmental impact assessment and mitigation measures to tackle pollution,' he said. 'Whether people are happy with the mitigation measures is a separate issue, but we have laws to protect people affected by highways.'