21 August 2019

Third runway benefits seen far outweighing environmental costs

The planned third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport will bring economic benefits that can offset the cost of its environmental impact by nearly nine times, Ming Pao Daily reported on Friday.

Operation of the runway over a 50-year period is expected to result in 266 million metric tons of carbon emission both at home and overseas, based on a method of calculation used by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Airport Authority executive director Wilson Fung Wing-yip was quoted as saying. That translates to a combined cost of HK$54.7 billion (US$7.06 billion), he said.

If only the environmental impact on Hong Kong is considered, the emission will only reach 32 million tons, which would cost HK$7.3 billion, Fung said.

However, the economic benefits of operating the third runway are estimated to reach HK$480 billion over the same period, he said.

Fung also said the need for a third runway cannot be questioned as the airport’s current capacity will not be enough to cope with the growth in global air traffic.

Environmental groups said the Airport Authority only cited the costs but failed to propose any measures to ease the runway’s environmental impact.

Melonie Chau, assistant environmental affairs manager of Friends of the Earth, said the estimated increase in carbon emission resulting from the operation of the runway runs counter to the government’s goal of cutting emission by 50-60 percent emission by 2020 from 2005.

The Environmental Protection Department on July 19 ended its public consultation on its environment evaluation report on the runway, and the Advisory Council on the Environment is set to review the report on Monday. Fung said he is confident the report will pass muster.

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