An environmental index suggests that the planned third runway at the Hong Kong airport could bring significant cost to the city in terms of economic loss and human life, based on the air pollution estimated by the Airport Authority (AA) in the environmental assessment report, a report said.
According to the Hedley Environmental Index, the new runway is expected to cause a total loss of HK$1.97 billion (US$254.18 million) to Hong Kong economy and 157 deaths in 2031, going by the data in AA’s environmental assessment report, Apple Daily cited the Civic Party as saying.
Without the new runway, the economic loss would be HK$655 million less, while the deaths would be 52 fewer in number, it is estimated.
The Hedley Environmental Index was created by Anthony J Hedley, honorary professor of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, to monitor real-time data regarding Hong Kong’s air pollution and its impact on public health and monetary value.
AA said in the assessment report that three runways would emit carbon with a total weight of 15 million kilograms in 2031, the year that is expected to see the most serious air pollution. The amount would be 5.2 million kilograms more than that emitted by only two runways.
The Hedley Environmental Index suggests such emission amount would result in 83,000 more people seeking medical help from hospitals, as compared to a scenario in which there were only two runways.
Civic Party legislator Kwok Ka-ki, who is also a surgical urologist, said as the city’s airport is similar to London’s Heathrow Airport in every aspect, calculation of the social cost from the third runway can be done using the method created previously by UK’s independent think tank New Economics Foundation.
Based on that model, 308 people could die directly from air pollution in the first 10 years after the third runway is built and the total social cost would amount to HK$3.86 billion in the period, according to Kwok.
Hong Kong residents are entitled to full facts on all the potential costs that an additional runway will bring, Kwok said, adding that the AA has so far not unveiled all the data needed for the public to make judgment.
The government’s Advisory Council on the Environment is scheduled to meet on September 15 to make a final decision on whether to recommend the assessment report to the Environmental Protection Department.
The Legislative council is set to hold a hearing at the end of the month to listen to public opinions on the new runway.
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