Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge

Bridge ruling could mean new delay for rail link

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am

The transport chief expressed fears that a HK$60 billion rail project due to start next year could face delays and cost increases as a result of a legal dispute over the environmental impact of the planned bridge across the Pearl River estuary.

The Sha Tin to Central link is one of a half-dozen major projects affected by the Court of First Instance's decision to quash the environmental impact report for part of the bridge project. Up to 70 smaller projects could also be affected.

Secretary for Transport Eva Cheng and the Environmental Protection Department are in talks on how to improve three assessment reports on the rail project - already two years behind schedule - to satisfy court requirements.

These include a separate analysis showing the environmental conditions of the area affected if the project did not go ahead.

'We will face delays if we can't finish the process by year's end and this might increase the cost, though it is difficult for us to assess the extent,' Cheng told lawmakers yesterday.

Cheng discussed the budget and timetable for the 17-kilometre rail link for the first time since the Court of First Instance quashed the permit for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge on April 18.

The Environmental Protection Department appealed against the ruling and has asked the court for a quick decision.

Cheng said six road projects were also affected. Impact assessments for these projects, including Route 6 in Kowloon and a tunnel between Tseung Kwan O and Lam Tin, are under way and are expected to be completed next year.