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Consider all costs of a third runway

South China Morning Post — 22 July 2011

WWF is not opposed to the sustainable development of Hong Kong. Any questioning of the assumptions and contentions in the Airport Authority’s expensive propaganda campaign supporting the third runway should not be construed as being anti-development.

The information offered by the authority is seriously lacking in specifics about the environmental impacts and the resultant costs. Major infrastructure projects must include an element of the social costs.

The people of Hong Kong are being asked to support an investment of HK$136 billion for a project with too few specifics provided. Our business community would not give a go-ahead on an investment of a lesser magnitude with such limited information.

WWF has expressed our concern about the impact of this huge loss of habitat on the very survival of the Chinese white dolphin. In discussions with WWF, the authority has recognised it is encroaching on the species’ habitat but is at a loss about what to do. WWF has expressed considerable concern about the impact of the ongoing loss of fishery grounds for our fishing community. Nothing is forthcoming on this social and economic cost to our community.

In a meeting with the authority we were astounded that it was unable to provide information on the increase in greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the increased traffic using the runaway. We were informed no such calculation has been undertaken because of the complexity of types of aircraft and predicted fuel efficiencies.

This assertion raises the question: How is the authority able to quantify the economic benefits to Hong Kong using traffic data to support its arguments, yet is incapable of calculating the greenhouse gas emissions?

This is a runway long on promises but woefully short on specifics.

WWF calls for the consultation process to be halted until after this crucial information is provided to the public. Then and only then can a reasoned decision be made.

Eric Bohm, CEO, WWF-Hong Kong

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