Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

June 13th, 2012:

Air quality will make or break airport’s hopes for third runway


Howard Winn
Jun 13, 2012

If the Airport Authority thought getting environmental approvals for its proposed third runway was going to be a breeze, it must have had a rude shock when its project profile was knocked back by the Environmental Protection Department.

Following comments from the public, the department has asked the authority to be more specific about the kinds of air pollutants it is going to consider in the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The concern is that the authority might decide, for example, not to consider the impact on health of the most seriously polluting emissions while focusing more on less harmful emissions. In their submissions to the department, the green groups said more clarity was needed.

The green groups learned a bitter lesson following the failure of the judicial review of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge. The judge said comments had to be made before the EIA was started rather than afterwards. As a result, green groups have never applied so much effort in scrutinising a project profile as they have for the third runway.

The bridge episode also led to a lack of public trust in the EIA process. The department is mistrusted because it is conflicted by having a director who is charged with assessing the environmental impact and is at the same time the permanent head of the department that is charged with doing what the government wants.

The department has already been thwarted recently, with its plans for the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator shelved. It now wants to be seen to be doing the right thing with regard to the airport. Hence its speedy response to criticism during the consultation process. The authority, having got rapid approval for the third runway, initially said nothing when the Legco environmental panel asked it to undertake a social return on investment study, a strategic impact study and a carbon inventory.

However, having pledged to become the greenest airport in the world, it found itself in a potentially embarrassing position, with the green groups threatening not to participate in its focus groups unless it complied. It has now agreed to look into this. But the biggest problem it faces in getting approval for its EIA is air quality. Hong Kong’s background air quality is so close to the government’s air quality limits that further infrastructure is impossible without either breaking the limits or taking old and dirty diesel engines off the roads.

Elderley widow unable to sell her house because of proposed incinerator

10:51am Wednesday 13th June 2012

By Chris Warne

AN ELDERLEY widow who lives in Little Haresfield says she has been unable to sell her house because Gloucestershire County Council plans to build a mass burn incinerator nearby.

As a result of ill-health, 81-year-old Jo Marsden decided to put her four-bedroom property up for sale in January so she could move closer to her daughter, who lives in Somerset.

However, she says potential buyers have been put off purchasing her converted bungalow because GCC intends to locate an incinerator less than a mile away at Javelin Park.

“I had a mini stroke before Christmas and that set alarm bells ringing,” said Mrs Marsden, a former primary school teacher.

“I was not able to shop for myself and I was having to rely on the support of my neighbours so I decided it was time to move.

“I put the house on the market and I have had about five or six different people come round to look at it.

“One lady who was very keen said she would make an offer but when she found out about the incinerator she changed her mind. She had three little daughters and she did not want to expose them to it.”

Although Mrs Marsden is likely to see a significant reduction in the value of her home if planning permission for the waste burning facility is granted, she has been told she will not be entitled to any compensation.

Her house is still up for sale but she said no-one looks around it anymore.

Mrs Marsden who moved into her current residence in 1984 has accused GCC of ignoring the views of local residents.

“I am very unhappy because the county council has not listened to us. We have formed GlosVAIN and had demonstrations but they just do not listen.”

Mrs Marsden added: “I do not want to be portrayed as a little old lady who can’t sleep, because I am a fighter. I have spent a lot of time writing to the county council and I will continue to fight this.”

A spokesman for Urbaser Balfour Beatty, the company hoping to build in the incinerator, said: “While we are not in a position to comment on individual cases, it is normal to have a period of uncertainty around proposed developments while the planning application is being considered.

The spokesman added: “Potential impacts on surrounding villages have been taken into account in the planning application. The facility will be constructed and operated according to best practice guidelines.”


© Copyright 2001-2012 Newsquest Media Group