We can expand airport and also solve Hong Kong's landfill problems

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 September, 2011, 12:00am


There is little argument that one reason for Hong Kong's attractiveness as a major travel destination is the highly efficient international airport, with its comprehensive facilities and travel connections. Under the 2030 Master Plan the airport will be expanded.

This development would offer a unique opportunity to combine two pressing needs that Hong Kong faces - the need to maintain the excellence of its transport/aviation facilities, and the need for landfill for the disposal of industrial, building and household waste.

The enormous volumes required to enlarge the artificial island at Chek Lap Kok would address Hong Kong's landfill requirements, and if undertaken creatively, could actually improve ecological bio-diversity. This has been elegantly demonstrated by the Pulau Semakau landfill in Singapore, the ecology of which attracted 13,000 paying public visitors in 2010.

As to the feasibility of converting waste landfill into a major airport, a living monument to such a technical achievement is Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan, which was opened in 1994.

There is no doubt that there are considerable geotechnical and civil engineering challenges, but surely we should be undertaking such projects not because they are easy, but because they are challenging, as in the classic exhortation by one of the last great statesmen, US president John F. Kennedy. From a barren rock, Hong Kong engineers have developed a world-class network of bridges, tunnels, highways, container terminals, sewage disposal systems, and over/under ground railway systems which are the envy of other 'world cities'. Therefore, for a can-do city, such a mega-project should be an easy job.

The combination of creative leadership and technical excellence in another mega-engineering project, which can also enhance environmental bio-diversity, should be a win-win opportunity which must not be passed over. And for once the government would not be seen to be beholden to the property tycoons.

There has already been enough tiresome bureaucratic pussyfooting about the West Kowloon Cultural District, as well as the cruise terminal.

At a stroke, let's address our landfill challenge and transport / logistics needs with such a project.

John M. Low, Wan Chai