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Leung aide sees no need for third runway


City can’t cope with more visitors disrupting our daily lives, says former Observatory chief
Cheung Chi-fai
Jun 09, 2012

A former Observatory director and adviser to the incoming chief executive has questioned the need for a third runway and the scope of the environmental impact study proposed for the huge project.

Lam Chiu-ying, who helped incoming chief executive Leung Chun- ying develop his environmental platform, said the HK$130 billion project was not sustainable.

The city simply did not have the capacity to deal with more visitors, he said.

“Does the airport need to grow indefinitely? Can it? I don’t think it fits into our reality. The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong is approaching capacity. If we want to avoid our lives getting further disrupted, I don’t see any incentive for us to expand the airport.”

The extra runway is forecast to generate HK$900 billion in long-term economic benefits. But Lam believes it shouldn’t be built because it will trigger a string of negative chain reactions in the daily lives of Hongkongers.

Lam also questioned whether the Airport Authority would weigh the environmental impact carefully enough. The project calls for the reclamation of 650 hectares of sea north of the two existing runways.

Lam fears the reclamation will lead to irreversible changes in the flow of water between Tuen Mun and Lantau, degrading the water quality.

Lam’s comments, made on his personal blog, come just a few days before Monday’s deadline for public comments on the profile of the runway project.

The profile, which spells out the potential impact of its construction, is the first step in activating the statutory environmental impact assessment study process.

After that, the Environmental Protection Department will issue a study brief – a detailed list of guidelines on the scope and technical requirements of the study.

The department has already received 140 submissions since posting the profile on its website on May 29.

Friends of the Earth made its submission yesterday, demanding that the profile include studies of air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.

The group also criticised the profile for omitting any mention of the potential health impacts of increased air, land and marine traffic on the more than 200,000 residents of Tung Chung new town.

The Clean Air Network shared those concerns. “Many important issues are not explored in depth in this profile, and that gives us a great deal of concern,” campaign manager Erica Chan said.

Lam is calling on the public to voice their concerns about the project.

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