• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:10am
NewsHong Kong
INFRASTRUCTURE

Environmental report key to future of third runway at Hong Kong airport

Public must accept assessment on airport expansion, which green groups say will harm marine environment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 9:12am

The fate of Hong Kong's costliest infrastructure project - a third airport runway - hinges on how well the public accepts the results of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) unveiled yesterday.

Adding another runway would boost the capacity of the airport by about 44 per cent by 2023 to meet expected growth in air traffic. The existing two runways are forecast to reach capacity in 2019, according to the Airport Authority.

But environmentalists worry the project, the city's biggest since the construction of the airport in the mid-1990s, could spell disaster for the area's marine ecology because 672 hectares of seabed will be reclaimed.

They say endangered Chinese white dolphins living in or using the affected habitats off Lantau will be threatened, despite a pledge by the Airport Authority to expand a marine park when work is complete.

The authority's chairman, Vincent Lo Hong-sui, called the results of the two-year EIA study, which is now subject to public consultation, the "most comprehensive" ever conducted in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong International Airport is strategically important to sustaining the [the city's] development and economy," he said. "This is why we are doing everything practicable to address the likely environmental impacts."

No one from the authority had anything to say yesterday about the final price tag for the project, which was initially estimated at HK$136 billion but is expected to be tens of billions of dollars higher.

Tommy Leung King-yin, general manager for projects, said it was in the process of updating the cost, which would take into account all mitigation measures covered in the environmental impact report.

The airlines and logistics sector have thrown their weight behind the project, which they see as vital to maintaining the city's status as a regional aviation hub. The airport is among the region's busiest in terms of passenger and cargo throughput. The authority estimates the third runway (pictured on the right with a new terminal in an artist's impression) could deliver HK$912 billion in economic benefits over 50 years. But green activists say the social and environmental costs, including carbon emissions, could also be in the hundreds of billions.

As well as the issue of the dolphins, the report addresses the project's impact on air and water quality and noise pollution. It concludes they will be acceptable with mitigation measures. But green groups say the authority made assumptions favourable to the project in the assessment.

Public consultation on the report will be open until July 19, after which the head of the Environmental Protection Department will make a decision on the project, based on views submitted by the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment.

Environmentalists said while they had faith in the assessment system, they feared the advisory council was just a "rubber stamp".

"There are conservationists and academics sitting on this council, but there are also many who are pro-government," said Edwin Lau Che-feng, Friends of the Earth's head of advocacy and an ex-council member.

Projects have rarely been rejected since the EIA Ordinance came into force in 1995.

 

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lenali2003
While it is essential to consider the environmental factors, economic benefits brought by the our international aviation hub is also necessary. The government should take an active role in protecting the nature by cutting down noise and air pollutions through regulations, rather than just remedying the loss by creating natural reserve elsewhere.
r6b
Has Guangzhou's 2nd airport in Nansha been factored into the viability of HK's 3rd runway assessment ?
Has the new high speed rail line been factored into the viability of HK's 3rd runway?
It will offer direct high speed service via Shenzhen North Stn, to both Shenzhen Airport
and also Nansha ( Guangzhou's airport #2 )
---------------------------
From Jiangmen news -
[2013-09-02 11:33:00]english.jiangmen.gov.cn
Shenzhen-Maoming railway’s is expected to open for service in 2017,
The goals and tasks of starting the construction by the end of this year pushed forward the Shenzhen-Maoming Railway preparatory work. The Geological Survey was issued in July. The environmental evaluation of Jiangmen-Maoming line was released in August. The preliminary design and other preparatory work are also being promoted simultaneously.
Moreover, according to the latest information, the Guangzhou second airport will be located in Nansha .
The Shenzhen-Maoming railway project will pass through Shenzhen North and Shenzhen Airport stations then across the Pearl River to Nansha (airport), Xiaolan, Jiangmen then on to Maoming.
53a4de13-1a00-4636-85b0-4c580a320968
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joyalsofi
"... how well the public accepts the results of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) unveiled yesterday." And, "Public consultation on the report will be open until July 19..." A general google search online and searches at both the airport authority and the epd websites didn't return any results for this ''public consultation." Why is that? Has SCMP got it wrong or is this what you might call a truly hidden agenda?
captam
There will not be $900m in economic benefits to Hong Kong. This will only make certain rich people richer while destroying the environment.
We do not need more aircraft coming to Hong Kong burning fossil fuels. We need less but larger capacity aircraft to cater to present and future needs. Our new high speed rail link will take up to 30% of current passenger throughput away from Chep Lak Kok. The government keeps saying we need to create jobs but there is already a shortage of labour in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong air cargo sector is already in decline as transhipment points move north, closer to the factories and their point of origin or destination. Someone here is lying to enrich themselves further at the communities expense.
Kill the 3rd runway project now.
r6b
I have this suspicion that the real purpose of the 3rd runway is to raise traffic volume across the HKMZ bridge only as far as the airport, in an attempt to justify its existence.
johnyuan
SCMP,
.
Please describe the photo. A new terminal with two new runways?
 
 
 
 
 

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