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Green group wants airport consultation extended

South China Morning Post -5 Aug 2011

Friends of the Earth says people need longer to consider information on airquality impacts

Green group Friends of the Earth has called for a public consultation on proposals to expand Hong Kong International Airport to be extended, claiming people need more time to digest information to be released on possible environmental impacts.

The Airport Authority – which has run a huge publicity campaign in favour of plans to build a third runway – bowed on Wednesday to public pressure, promising to release a set of eight consultancy reports, including one on the environmental considerations.

The new runway would involve reclaiming 600 hectares of sea north of Chek Lap Kok airport, which marine conservationists say are key white dolphin habitats. The other option proposed would see the airport terminal expanded.

Of around 1,000 people polled by Friends of the Earth last week, about 73 per cent said they had not heard about air quality impacts from the Airport Authority, while half said it was unreasonable to be asked to make an uninformed decision. It was subsequently announced the reports would be released next week – still less than a month before a September 2 deadline for the consultation.

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, Friends of the Earth’s environmental affairs manager, said potential impacts on air quality were a major concern but that the public was still in the dark.

“Even though they will release some reports next week, there is still not enough time for the public to swallow the information in just one month. They should extend the consultation period,” he said.

The group said it was highly unlikely that the third runway option would pass an environmental test as air quality objectives on nitrogen dioxide in Tung Chung, south of the airport, had already been breached.

A spokeswoman for the authority quoted an atmospheric expert as saying the airport was not a major source of air pollution in Tung Chung.

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