An assessment of the impact a proposed third runway might have on the environment will likely be ready by year end, the Airport Authority chief says.
Stanley Hui Hon-chung, who was at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, also said a government cash injection to fund the multibillion-dollar project at Chek Lap Kok airport would be inevitable.
But he declined to say how much government funding he had in mind.
"We will try our best to reduce and mitigate possible pollution and adopt compensatory measures if needed," Hui said. "We should be able to submit the report … by the end of this year."
The assessment, which began in August, would cover areas such as how air and noise quality as well as the Chinese white dolphins' habitat would be affected, Hui said. The authority last year estimated the assessment would cost about HK$100 million and take up to two years to complete.
"It will be inevitable to require government funds to share the cost [of building the third runway]," Hui said. "We could also issue bonds or borrow."
The Executive Council in March last year backed the proposal to build the third runway on reclaimed land instead of expanding the airport island. It would involve reclaiming about 650 hectares north of the airport island at a projected cost of HK$136.2 billion after inflation.
Transport and Housing Minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung had in January forecast the new runway to be completed in 2023. The Airport Authority said the runway, when completed, would be able to cope with the projected air traffic increase up to and even beyond 2030.
Last year, the airport handled 4.03 million tonnes of cargo.