SCM Post today:
City can't cope with more visitors disrupting our daily lives, says former Observatory chief
A former Observatory director and adviser to the incoming chief executive has questioned the need for a third runway and the scope of the environmental impact study proposed for the huge project.
Lam Chiu-ying, who helped incoming chief executive Leung Chun- ying develop his environmental platform, said the HK$130 billion project was not sustainable.
The city simply did not have the capacity to deal with more visitors, he said.
"Does the airport need to grow indefinitely? Can it? I don't think it fits into our reality. The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong is approaching capacity. If we want to avoid our lives getting further disrupted, I don't see any incentive for us to expand the airport."
The extra runway is forecast to generate HK$900 billion in long-term economic benefits. But Lam believes it shouldn't be built because it will trigger a string of negative chain reactions in the daily lives of Hongkongers.
Lam also questioned whether the Airport Authority would weigh the environmental impact carefully enough. The project calls for the reclamation of 650 hectares of sea north of the two existing runways.
Lam fears the reclamation will lead to irreversible changes in the flow of water between Tuen Mun and Lantau, degrading the water quality.
Lam's comments, made on his personal blog, come just a few days before Monday's deadline for public comments on the profile of the runway project.
Friends of the Earth made its submission yesterday, demanding that the profile include studies of air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.
The group also criticised the profile for omitting any mention of the potential health impacts of increased air, land and marine traffic on the more than 200,000 residents of Tung Chung new town.
The Clean Air Network shared those concerns. "Many important issues are not explored in depth in this profile, and that gives us a great deal of concern," campaign manager Erica Chan said.
I've just submitted a brief response to EIA, including:
The third runway is unnecessary, and will overall have a negative impact on Hong Kong.
It will be hugely expensive, will forever destroy a huge expanse of waters within the Pearl River Mouth – home to wildlife including the Chinese White Dolphin, which is already in trouble and could be severely affected by this massive project.
Air pollution impacts are likely to be severe; these need fuller consideration, including at regional level – including existing air pollution (bad at Tung Chung now anyway), plus the bridge to Macao and Zhuhai, highways etc associated with Hengqing Island and other development areas, incinerators in Shenzhen [and Hong Kong]
Also need fuller consideration of whether increased flights are possible – including given constraints on landing rights, future of air transport in near term with Peak Oil and concerns re carbon emissions.
Seen claims HK will build world’s greenest airport; but also the Airport Authority hasn’t a clue how to measure just how green the airport is. Some carbon reductions here and there don’t make for a green airport, especially if create such a monstrous addition.