Environmental Impact Assessment for Expanding Airport into Three-Runway System Concludes Project Impact is Acceptable with Implementation of Mitigation Measures

Press Release - 20/06/2014

More than 250 measures proposed to address potential environmental impacts arising from construction and operation of Three-Runway System

(HONG KONG, 20 June 2014) – Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) today announced that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the expansion of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) into a Three-Runway System (3RS) has fully met the requirements of the EIA Study Brief and Technical Memorandum, and is therefore suitable for public inspection.

Reiterating its commitment to addressing the likely environmental effects arising from 3RS project, the AA said more than 250 measures to avoid, minimise, mitigate and compensate for potential environmental impacts have been proposed in the EIA report, including the designation of Hong Kong’s largest-ever marine park in north-western Lantau waters. 

The comprehensive two-year study was undertaken with support from an experienced EIA team comprising local and internationally renowned experts, who examined the 3RS project with focus on 12 key environmental aspects. The team of experts concluded that the potential impacts of the 3RS project are acceptable given the tremendous efforts made in identifying, avoiding and minimising the potential impacts with extensive measures proposed.

The EIA report was made public today and will remain available for inspection till 19 July. Some of the wide-ranging 250-plus measures include:

-  Rendering full assistance to the Administration for the firm commitment to designate the Hong Kong’s largest-ever marine park of about 2,400 hectares, which will connect the waters surrounding the expanded Hong Kong International Airport Approach Area (HKIAAA) with the existing Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau marine park and the planned marine park to be designated at Brothers Island to form a consolidated marine protection area of more than 5,000 hectares;

-  Using non-dredge methods for reclamation to effectively minimise impacts on the marine environment; for example, employing deep cement mixing (DCM) for the first time in Hong Kong in areas with contaminated mud pits (CMP);

-  Using the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) construction method for the diversion of existing aviation fuel pipelines to avoid disturbing the seabed and affecting water quality; and

-  Following the commissioning of the 3RS, putting the south runway on standby mode at night (11:00pm to 6:59am) whenever possible to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on North Lantau.

The AA also thanked the commitments of numerous key stakeholders for supporting the implementation of a number of initiatives prior to construction in order to alleviate the potential environmental impacts associated with the 3RS project, such as:

-  Minimising potential impact on air quality by banning the use of auxiliary power units (APUs) for aircraft parking at frontal stands, and reducing air emissions by banning the use of non-electric saloon vehicles on the apron from end-2017 onward, plus providing the largest charging system in Hong Kong;

-  Enforcing a Civil Aviation Department (CAD) ban on Marginally Compliant Chapter 3 (MCC3) aircraft for night-time (11:00pm to 6:59am) landings and take-offs at HKIA, which took effect recently from end-March 2014. The CAD is also introducing a new over-water arrival flight path (Track 6) via West Lamma Channel for preferential use during night-time to minimise noise impact on more densely populated areas;

-  Rerouting and controlling the speed of SkyPier high-speed ferries to and from Macau and Zhuhai to alleviate potential disturbance to Chinese White Dolphins (CWD); and

-  Establishing a Marine Ecology and Fisheries Enhancement Strategy with associated funding to support initiatives that can enhance habitats for marine ecology and fishery resources, promote a sustainable fisheries industry (e.g. helping fishermen adjust to changes in their fishing activities as a result of the 3RS project, and/ or supporting initiatives that can enhance fisheries resources in western Hong Kong waters), encourage scientific research and studies, and promote environmental education and eco-tourism.

Vincent Lo Hong-sui, Chairman of the AA, said, “Hong Kong International Airport is strategically important to sustaining Hong Kong’s development and economy. We are fully aware of the environmental impacts arising from operating an airport and the currently proposed expansion project.

"This is why we are doing everything practicable to address the likely environmental impacts," Mr Lo added. "We have successfully concluded the EIA report thanks not only to our team of local and international consultants, but also to the support and advice of our business partners and all the other stakeholders we have engaged over the years. We sincerely hope that members of the public and our stakeholders will continue to support the urgent need to expand HKIA’s airport facilities, which will allow it to remain a substantial contributor to Hong Kong’s status as an international hub of financial services, trade and logistics, tourism and professional services."

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, Chief Executive Officer of the AA, said, “The start of the EIA report’s public inspection period marks a key milestone in the development of the 3RS, which began in 2008 when we conducted preliminary studies.

"After the public inspection period, the EIA report will be reviewed by the Advisory Council on the Environment, whose advice will then be considered by the Director of Environmental Protection as to whether the report shall be approved and an Environmental Permit shall be granted,” added Mr Hui. “We hope this process can be completed within this year. The next stage of work entails completing other statutory requirements and detailed design, updating the project cost and finalising the funding options, all of which are expected to complete before construction may begin. In order for HKIA to meet its long-term air traffic demand, which is growing much faster than forecast, we aim to commence construction of the 3RS project as soon as possible for 3RS commissioning in 2023."

For the full EIA report, members of the public can visit the EPD’s website (http://www.epd.gov.hk/eia). They can also provide their written comments to The EIA Ordinance Register Office of EPD via email, mail and fax. Those with enquiries about the EIA report can contact the hotline at (852) 3908 0354.

Representatives from Airport Authority Hong Kong and members of the local and international Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultant team brief media on the findings and mitigation measures as listed in the EIA report.

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