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April 30th, 2015:

Air pollution in Central and Causeway Bay exceeds WHO levels 280 days in a year

Air pollution levels in Central and Causeway Bay violated global health and safety standards for almost 280 days in the past year, with Des Voeux Road and Hennessy Road experiencing the worst levels of fine particulate matter on Hong Kong Island, a new study has found.

The air quality study, results of which were announced on Thursday, measured fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in the air on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island along the tramway, by installing a monitoring unit on a tram car for a year’s worth of constant monitoring.

Even in Eastern District, where there was less traffic, the PM2.5 levels exceeded the international standard for more than 80 days in a year, the study found.

“The study offers another set of data to confirm the air pollution in the city is very serious,” said Simon Ng, chief research officer of Civic Exchange, a think tank that worked with the University of Science and Technology on the research.

“Our government must make it a policy priority to improve roadside air quality in major urban street canyons.”

Ng cited an earlier University of Hong Kong study that suggested older people were particularly vulnerable to the pollution, which could lead to respirational problems and heart conditions.

The new study, conducted between March last year and February this year, also found that areas with good ventilation and lower buildings helped to dispense the pollution.

The World Health Organisation’s recommended standard for PM2.5 is 25 millionths of a gram per cubic metre daily, and 10 millionths of a gram per cubic metre as an annual mean.

But Des Voeux Road has the highest concentration, registering 55 millionths of a gram per cubic metre as its annual mean, followed by Hennessy Road between Tonnochy Road in Wai Chai to the west and Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay to the east.

In general, Central and Causeway Bay exceeded the WHO daily standard for almost 280 days in the yearlong study. But areas around spacious Victoria Park contained lower levels of the harmful particles than Yee Wo Street, which is congested with tall buildings, despite heavy traffic in both areas, the study suggested.

Professor Jimmy Fung, head of HKUST’s Division of Environment, said good city planning would help to ease the pressing problem. “The government should devise a long term strategy to improve wind and air dispersion in urban street canyons with every new development and urban re-development opportunities.

“He said pedestrianisation scheme and low emission zone should be considered in locations where roadside air quality is really bad, such as Des Voeux Road West, Hennessy Road and King’s Road.

Source URL (modified on Apr 30th 2015, 6:54pm):

Doubts grow over Hong Kong’s third runway as aviation department abandons plan for an abort path over PLA firing range

Difficulties finding route for aborted landings put third runway in doubt

Further doubts have been cast on the running of Chek Lap Kok airport’s proposed third runway, after the Civil Aviation Department said it would abandon a key flight path planned for aborted aircraft landings on the strip.

Routing planes over a firing range used by the People’s Liberation Army and police in Castle Peak, Tuen Mun, situated under the proposed missed- approach route, proved too challenging.

The department announced on Monday it had given up on this route – recommended by its British consultants – due to “technical issues”.

The Post revealed last month how the firing range posed a hazard to planes and that frequent shooting threatened to reduce the airspace available and limit the number of aircraft that can land.

At present, the airport’s two runways can handle 67 planes an hour. A third runway would see that capacity increase to 102.

In a statement, Hong Kong’s aviation regulator said: “Since the implementation of this flying procedure poses technological limitations to flight operations, such as on the requirement on the climb gradient, the Civil Aviation Department earlier decided not to adopt this procedure.”

A spokeswoman denied the issue was directly related to the firing range but reiterated it would comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.

One of the few alternative flight paths for aborted landings would force planes arriving from Macau to make a sharp U-turn, coming immediately into conflict with planes approaching Shenzhen airport.

Michael Mo Kwan-tai, spokesman for the Airport Development Concern Network, said: “The CAD has taken a huge gamble in assuming the Shenzhen authorities would give way to missed-approach aircraft in order to give maximum capacity to the three-runway system.

“If Shenzhen will not give way, or in any circumstance the Pearl River Delta [airspace] integration plan does not include approval of this U-turn missed approach, the third runway will be screwed up,” he added.

Former aviation department chief Albert Lam Kwong-yu said to enter Shenzhen’s airspace, the department “must have agreement and consult its authorities”.

The sharp U-turn into mainland airspace is the only other flight path offered by the National Air Traffic Service that complies with global aviation laws.

Consultants carved out the “escape route” after assuming airspace would be merged with the Pearl River Delta and that the firing range would be shut down.

Source URL (modified on Apr 30th 2015, 3:01am):