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Setback for runway planners in call for more information

HK Standard

Phila Siu and Brian Chan

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Airport Authority has suffered a setback over its plan to build a third runway, as the government demands it should provide more project information before an environmental assessment can be carried out.

The authority said it received the request from the director of Environmental Protection on Friday, and the additional information should cover ecology, noise, health and hazards.

“The organization is firmly committed to fulfilling all the statutory requirements under the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Ordinance and will provide the requested information as soon as possible,” an authority spokesman said.

The project profile is needed to outline how the authority should conduct an environmental assessment.

The two-week public consultation ended yesterday, with 209 sets of public comments received, according to the Environmental Protection Department.

As soon as the authority provides the additional information to the EPD, the authority will have to gazette its profile again. Another two-week consultation will be carried out.

Meanwhile, 12 green groups renewed their calls for a more detailed profile yesterday. They stressed that the profile is very important as it will determine how the environmental assessment should be carried out.

Clean Air Network’s campaign manager Erica Chan Fong-ying said that the submitted profile does not mention three important pollution indicators that will be brought by the third runway construction – nitrogen oxide, fine suspended particulates and ozone.

“These have the biggest harm to human body,” Chan said. “But they are completely not mentioned in the profile.”

She pointed out these elements are essential because, for example, the pollution monitoring station in Tung Chung recorded the worst pollution of all the 14 stations in the city.

WWF’s terrestrial conservation manager Alan Leung Sze-lun said the authority makes use of outdated figures to assess the runway construction’s impact on Hong Kong’s rare pink dolphins.

Leung said although the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department issues the number of dolphins in Hong Kong every year, the authority makes use of 2007 and 2008 figures in its profile.

“The number of dolphins was still quite stable in 2007 and 2008, but the number has dropped a lot last year,” Leung said.

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