Dolphins offered a 'phoney' deal over Hong Kong airport's third runway
Measures proposed in the Airport Authority's environmental impact assessment of the airport's planned third runway - due for release today - are unlikely to compensate for the loss of dolphin habitat, a conservation group says.
In particular, the Dolphin Conservation Society describes as "phoney" a proposal for a new marine park area to be established after the runway's completion in 2023. The society said yesterday that the planned reclamation for the runway would gobble up 650 hectares of sea used by the rare Chinese white dolphin. As a result, 70 per cent of an estimated 65 dolphins that belong to the northern social cluster of dolphins north of Chek Lap Kok would be at direct risk from reclamation work, it said.
Society chairman Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu said the reclamation area was a major travelling corridor for dolphins roaming to and from feeding grounds between the Brothers Islands and the Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chai Marine Park.
The runway expansion would also force the dolphins north and into busy shipping lanes used by high-speed vessels, Hung added.
The report is set to propose the merging of the Sha Chau marine park with a new one east of the runway after its completion in 2023 but the society dismissed this as a "phoney" attempt at compensation.
"Designating this marine park in 2023 will be too late and the damage will already be done. It will not help bring the dolphins back."
The society has vowed to campaign hard during the 30-day public consultation period to persuade the Environmental Protection Department to reject the report when it meets in August.
It will launch a campaign over the next month to highlight the plight of dolphins living in the area. The society hopes to collect 10,000 comments from the public against the report.
The authority said it studied the possible impact of the airport expansion in 12 key environmental aspects, and proposed measures to "avoid, reduce, mitigate and compensate for any potential environmental impact".
The runway is expected to cost HK$130 billion. The authority says it will bring about HK$912 billion in economic benefits over the course of 50 years.
Watch: In the summer of 2013, SCMP took a tour of the area when conditions where better for the dolphins according to Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu