A government expert panel discussed on Tuesday the environmental assessment report on the planned third runway for the Hong Kong International Airport, and concluded that the report was largely acceptable, according to Ming Pao Daily.
Dorothy Chan, who headed the panel from the government’s Advisory Council on the Environment, said after the meeting that the committee will present the report at the council’s general meeting for discussion in mid-September. Members will then make a final decision as to whether to recommend to the head of the Environmental Protection Department to clear the proposal.
A member of the panel said supplementary materials submitted by the Airport Authority (AA) still failed to cover issues including methods to protect Chinese white dolphins and how to lower noise level of airplanes. As a result, the panel set a series of clauses to ask the AA to conform to, as well as submit, more information before construction is allowed to begin, the report said.
A source told the paper that one of the clauses set for giving a green light to construction of the runway is ask AA to set up two funds — one for natural conservation and the other for compensation to fishermen.
Hung Wing-tat, the panel’s vice chairman, said there were only concepts in AA’s conservation plans for short, medium and long term, but no concrete measures were included.
While a few panel members raised some objections over the assessment report, the committee as a whole agreed that construction is possible as long as AA follows the clauses.
Melonie Chau, an assistant manager with environmental group Friends of the Earth, said the panel’s acceptance of the assessment report is disappointing as the clauses do not cover the planned two marine parks in Southwest Lantau and Soko Islands announced on Monday by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The plan may end up with empty words, she said
The Advisory Council on the Environment is scheduled to meet on September 15. Some members are calling on AA’s representatives to make presentations on the runway plan then.
Should everything go smoothly, the council is likely to suggest passage of the assessment report, and a permit on runway construction is expected as soon as next month.
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