Judicial review sought on heliport

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am

Move to cut number of landing pads opposed

A group pushing for the construction of a heliport at the Convention and Exhibition Centre is seeking a judicial review of a decision to reduce the size of the facility on the area's new master plan.

The Hong Kong Regional Heliport Working Group, which describes itself as a group of industry representatives and people concerned about the lack of downtown facilities for helicopters, filed an application for judicial review on Thursday.

The group, which counts Sir Michael Kadoorie among its members, is challenging the Town Planning Board's decision to amend the Draft Wan Chai North Outline Zoning Plan to allow for a facility with two landing pads instead of four.

Four pads were necessary to cater to forecast growth in helicopter transport throughout southern China, the group claimed.

The size of the facility was reduced after the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the government needed to show an overwhelming public need if it was to reclaim any more of the harbour.

The Central Helipad facilities in Lung Wui Road, Admiralty, were closed in January 2004 for reclamation work.

According to the board, the resized facility would cater primarily to the Government Flying Service, but would also provide space for domestic helicopter services.

There would be no provision for international services.

Strong objections to the amendments were raised by the group, but it was informed in late January that those complaints had been considered and rejected.

The group claims the board made a fundamental error in assuming that expanding the Hong Kong-Macau ferry terminal's heliport would adequately address the growth that has been forecast.

According to the application, the heliport at the terminal is suitable only for twin-engine craft, whereas ground-based facilities could be used by single-engine aircraft, which it says make up 85 per cent of the civilian fleet worldwide.

'Also, the growth of gambling in Macau would mean that any growth in helicopter services from the [terminal] would be absorbed by the increased traffic [between Hong Kong and Macau],' the application says.

It also dismisses alternative locations such as Kai Tak for the heliport as being too far from the people who would use the facility, defeating the purpose of having a heliport in the first place.

The working group wants the Court of First Instance to overturn the board's decision and force it to reconsider its objections.