The Town Planning Board has approved a rezoning request that paves the way for reclamation of a coastal protection area adjoining Chek Lap Kok airport. The area is to be used for the construction of a road that will link the airport to the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge. The decision has angered green groups and the Association for Geoconservation, which said it had not been informed of plans for the reclamation and that all possible alternatives should be considered. Under the government's plan, the coastal protection area located east of the airport island will be rezoned to provide for construction of the link road and associated works. The new road will also link the main section of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge to a new border checkpoint to the north of the airport. The area earmarked for road building incorporates a natural coastline about 2km long that was originally zoned for preservation and not development. Cheng Ting-ning, Highways Department project manager for the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge, told the board yesterday that the department had considered a few options but they had been either too costly or opposed by Tung Chung residents. One option, a tunnel running north of the airport, would cost an extra HK$13 billion, Mr Cheng said, adding it would also impose constraints on a third airport runway. If the proposed highway were in a tunnel, it would run for 10km, which might raise safety concerns, he said. Another option - a viaduct from the hill at the island's southern tip to the new border checkpoint - had been rejected by Tung Chung residents citing air, visual and noise pollution concerns. An Association for Geoconservation spokesman said: 'The government is removing a unique character of the city's airport. The coastline under protection is a lowland and suitable for walks. It can be enhanced and turned into a recreational spot for airport staff, Tung Chung residents and visitors to hotels nearby.' The association urged the government to consider offshore reclamation for the road, without destroying the coastline. That option would also create a lagoon between the shore and the road, which would add recreational value to the site. WWF senior conservation officer Alan Leung Sze-lun urged the government to study other options, adding that the conservation body would object to the present proposal and submit an alternative.