Residents say rail viaduct would bring noise and ruin birds' habitat
Residents in Southern district are objecting to a proposed railway viaduct, which they say will destroy the tranquility they enjoy and the green character of the area, which is popular with egrets and other birds.
They are urging the MTR Corporation to put this section of the 7km South Island Line underground, even though it would add to costs and take more time.
Residents from nine areas in the district - including wealthy Shouson Hill and the Lei Tung Estate, a public housing project - launched a signature campaign yesterday against the railway company's decision to stick to the viaduct plan after two rounds of public consultation were completed last year.
The line runs from Admiralty to South Horizons with stops at Ocean Park, Wong Chuk Hang and Lei Tung. Work is expected to start in 2011.
The residents said the elevated railway, running between the toll plaza of the Aberdeen Tunnel and Lei Tung Estate, would create a bleak environment and generate noise.
It would also ruin a wood that is popular with egrets next to Staunton Creek nullah, which would be covered by the viaduct, said Anthony Kwong Sik-keung, a member of the South District Sustainable Development Concern Group. The trees are home to 700 egrets and are a popular bird-watching spot for residents.
'Even if tunnelling of the section means three years of delay, we are willing to wait,' he said.
Paul Zimmerman, founding member of Designing Hong Kong, said the nullah should be revitalised instead of being overshadowed. 'It should be revitalised the same way as Kai Tak's nullah and Tuen Mun's.'
The HK$7 billion railway project is to be paid for from the redevelopment of the public housing estate at Wong Chuk Hang. Mr Zimmerman said residents had been informed by the MTR Corp that putting the section underground would add HK$2 billion to the project's cost.
He said the government had to change the financing plan and subsidise the extra cost. 'It's just the same as it subsidises the West Island Line, and a tunnel would make the environment much better.'
The residents' group will make a presentation to lawmakers at a Legislative Council's transport panel meeting tomorrow.
The Transport and Housing Bureau said in a paper submitted to Legco this week that the MTR Corp was conducting an environmental-impact assessment on the egrets and that the nullah area was not frequented by egrets. It said the company would study overseas examples to see if the appearance of the viaduct could be improved.