Huge bridge from HK to Macau to create huge problems

Here's a letter I sent the South China Morning Post re Hong Kong - Zhuhai - Macau bridge, funding for which has reportedly been agreed on. The letter appeared today.

Kudos to Jake van der Kamp (Monitor, 3 and 4 March) and David Sadoway (Letters, 4 March) for pointing out economic and environmental shortcomings with the monstrous bridge planned to link Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau.

This indeed appears to be little more than a grandiose concrete pouring scheme that will benefit few people - several of them already rich beyond most people's wildest dreams - whilst proving extremely costly and environmentally damaging.

The environmental damage will extend far beyond the bridge. Not only is it likely to result in north Lantau coming to resemble the northwest New Territories, complete with container parks and the like, but it is also intended to spur development in Zhuhai, so wreaking further havoc. Zhuhai development will result in yet more regional air pollution, from power stations, factories, and petrol and diesel vehicles - hence making Hong Kong's air pollution even worse.

Perhaps this seems a minor issue to the project backers, who were young in an era when the air was good for growing lungs, yet it helps give the lie to the government's supposed aim of making our air cleaner.

The bridge is hardly the only economically dubious and environmentally damaging project Hong Kong has planned or built in recent years - following on from Cyberport, DIsneyland, the Hong Kong-Shekou Bridge and the partly built Stonecutters Bridge. Sadly, the people in power here seem oblivious to the fact that Hong Kong has one of the greatest natural settings of any city in the world, and are hell-bent on creating a city of concrete and pollution.

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To me, rather ironic that seems few people will reap rewards from Hong Kong government largesse - yes, this is the same government that recently said we can't afford to increase the allowance for elderly people.

Martin Williams's picture

Just sent this as comment on EIA for Hong Kong section of the bridge - aka the HZMB Hong Kong Link Road:

The EIA is inadequate and insubstantial.
As noted by others, the EIA should indeed be in Chinese as well as English.

Regarding air pollution resulting from bridge traffic: the EIA blithely suggests that air for "receivers" will be within Hong Kong Air Quality Objectives. Yet as the consultant, Arup, is fully aware, Hong Kong's AQOs are outdated. It would be more informative to compare the air quality with the latest WHO guidelines.

The EIA is woefully inadequate in giving no consideration to the broader impacts in air quality arising from the bridge and ensuing development. We have been told the bridge will encourage development in Zhuhai. If so, this will increase air pollution in the Pearl River Delta. No mention of this is made in the EIA - this is a serious omission.

Nor is consideration made of potential adverse impacts on north Lantau, from developments arising from bridge construction. The northwest New Territories should serve as a salutary lesson of what can happen as an indirect consequence of increased container traffic in Hong Kong: farmland can be ruined by container parks, scrapyards and so forth. Will there be measures to prevent such things happening in Hong Kong? The EIA does not tell us.

Further, the EIA fails to consider alternatives, such as rail - could this significantly reduce the air pollution from bridge traffic?
Why is this omitted? It seems the consultant was mainly seeking to support the planned project.

The EIA makes no mention of whether the potential for birds being killed by colliding with the bridge was considered. This could be an issue, especially given the Pearl River Delta is on the flyways of many migratory birds, including internationally threatened species.