Tsing Yi, rather than ecologically sensitive North Lantau, has been chosen as the site for Container Terminal 10 on environmental grounds.
This ends the threat the structure would have posed to the Chinese white dolphin population in North Lantau waters. The project will require removing oil depots in southwest Tsing Yi.
The Tsing Yi community, green groups and transport experts welcomed the idea. The logistics sector questioned the need for another terminal as growth in container throughput continues to drop.
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the proposed change of location was due to environmental concerns.
'Extensive reclamation would be required for the site at northwest Lantau, which may affect the environment,' he said. 'At southwest Tsing Yi, although this site will require the relocation of the existing oil depots, it can achieve synergy with the container terminals in Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi.'
Geographically, North Lantau may be a more convenient location for cargo coming from the western part of the mainland after the opening of the planned Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong bridge. The bridge would run from San Shek Wan in North Lantau. But transport analyst Hung Wing-tat said North Lantau was not suitable for parking ocean vessels as the water there was too shallow.
A breakthrough was reported recently on funding for the long-stalled bridge project. Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng is expected to announce funding details after a tripartite meeting in Guangzhou today.
Leung Kong-yui, president of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, said the Tsing Yi site would serve the industry better as backup land rather than as a container terminal.
'We don't know if the future growth in container throughput would exceed our ports' capacity,' he said. 'But at this point the industry's demand on backup land for storing containers and other value-added activities is more pressing.'
The government will also commission a feasibility study in the next few months on constructing a third runway at the airport.