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Top court appeal over mega bridge

HK Standard — 5 May 2011

The government is to appeal against a court ruling that quashed the environmental permit for the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau bridge in a move that may further delay construction.

The action will be taken in the Court of Final Appeal this week on the grounds it is not mandatory under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance for the government to assess air quality without the project in place, a source said.

The source said the authorities are also preparing to counter the High Court’s claim that the assessment report is “substandard” and that the government needs to reassess the environmental impact of proposed boundary-crossing facilities.

Last month, Chu Yee-wah, a 65-year-old Tung Chung resident who is in poor health, successfully argued the Environmental Protection Department had failed to conduct the necessary assessments before granting permits for the construction of the mega bridge, which passes close to her residence.

Chu’s lawyer, Alan Wong Hok-ming, said yesterday the legal battle could drag on for six months or more.

Work on the Hong Kong section of the bridge was scheduled to begin late last year and be completed in 2016, but work has not yet started because of the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the earlier High Court ruling has had a knock-on effect, with the MTR Corp withdrawing impact assessment reports for its Sha Tin-Central rail link.

A transport advisory body had raised concerns over the progress of the 17-kilometer line.

Transport Advisory Committee chairman Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said if many changes are needed, the railway operator may postpone the public consultation exercise scheduled to end early next year.

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