By Vanessa Ko
Posting in Cities
HONG KONG -- The massive proposed project is essential if the city wants to stay on top. But is continued growth worth all the costs?
HONG KONG — Airport Authority Hong Kong said Hong Kong International Airport will need to add a new runway — it's third — in order to meet future demands of cargo and passenger traffic.
But its proposal will cost taxpayers $17 billion, after factoring in inflation, making it the city's most expensive infrastructure project yet.
Critics are calling for a thorough environmental assessment before any decision is made, but time constraints will make such a report unlikely: the government will decide over the next few months whether to give the proposal the green light.
Hong Kong's airport has the most world's most air-cargo traffic and last year was third in terms of international air passenger flow, behind London and Paris.
The two existing runways are expected to be saturated in use by 2020 if a third one is not added. The new runway would be built on reclaimed land extending from the airport's location on Lantau Island.
To further bolster the proposal, the AAHK announced on Thursday that a survey of the public found three quarters of respondents support the three-runway plan — a "clear consensus," as the AAHK said in a statement.
Few question that the addition is necessary for Hong Kong to maintain its hub status. It is estimated that the project would also help bring in $117 billion in economic benefits over 50 years until 2061. These benefits include the creation of thousands of jobs.
But critics say overall benefits are diminished by environmental drawbacks.
The Civic Party, a liberal democratic party, has called for a detailed environmental assessment. Such a study would measure the effect that construction and dredging might have on surrounding waters (populated by rare dolphins that are cute to boot) as well as the level of noise pollution for residents in the area.
WWF in Hong Kong has questioned whether evolving carbon-tax rules might lower the expected demand for flights, and has expressed concern over increased greenhouse gases as a result of busier aviation traffic.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Toyotaboy95
Dec 30, 2011
The PRD mega companies like Foxconn have moved out to Chongqing and Hubei. PRD workers from Jan 1st will have a pay increase mandated again. The aircargo that used to come from PRD to world airports via HKG is now far reduced. The aircargo in 2011 was down 18+% on the previous year.They intend to build a fast rail tunnel between HK airport and Shenzhen airport. This is a good idea since Shenzhen has more domestic flights than HK to China airports. Meanwhile UPS has based its asian hub at Shenzhen airport 50 kms from HK. Shenzhen's second runway is in operation and they are building a third. Federal Express asian hub is in Guangzhou which intends to have 5 runways. In order to fuel the HK airport with cargo the HK Govt decided on another white elephant (beyond the white elephant fast rail to nowhere 30kms east of Guangzhou) - that is the HK Zhuhai Macau road traffic only bridge. This is to connect the HK Government's (through its full owned subsidiary Airport Authority of Hong Kong) 55% joint venture stake in Zhuhai airport which has no international flights. Meanwhile all the landing slots in the PRD are controlled by China's military and HKG has failed so far to get any approval of additional landing slots from them. For the first time in years (because the HK Civil Aviation Authority refuses to hire skilled competent air traffic controllers from overseas) there were three near misses on Chep Lap Kok approaches in 2011. Meanwhile HK has the eighth worst PM2.5 particulate matter suspended in air, in the world already and Tsang has done next to zero to rid Hong Kong of its pathetic air quality other than to further pander to the construction tycoons.