Officials said reclamation work for the boundary facilities of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the environmental permit for which was recently quashed by a court, would be among the cleanest in the world.
The Highways Department said it had chosen a new technology that would not only reduce dredging by 97 per cent, but severely limited the injection of suspended particles into the sea, minimising the construction's impact on marine life, such as Chinese white dolphins.
The work, which would create an artificial island of 130 hectares at the northeastern end of the Hong Kong International Airport, was meant to begin in the third quarter of this year. But with the Court of First Instance rejecting the environmental chief's approval of the construction within Hong Kong's boundaries, it is not known by how long it will be delayed.
Although tenders have been opened, the Highways Department said the delay would not spark lawsuits from bidders because the tender document already listed such risks.
The project's chief engineer, Bok Kwok-ming of the Highways Department, said they had adopted one of the cleanest reclamation methods in the world, although the choice would add 10 per cent to the construction costs - which he declined to reveal.
Bok said the new reclamation method would eliminate the need for about 80 vessels bringing sand and other filling materials to the area every day. That would obviously reduce the threat to the Chinese white dolphins.
The area is neither a breeding ground nor an active visiting spot for the species, but environmentalists said it served as a retreat in cases of danger for dolphins that gathered to the south of Lantau.
Apart from the bridge, the airport authority is also planning to build a third runway requiring reclamation work in the area.