Hong Kong’s ambitious plans to expand its airport to meet soaring demand have sparked protests from environmentalists who say it would further endanger the city’s rare Chinese white dolphins.
The southern Chinese city started a three-month consultation on its 20-year airport development blueprint last week, which includes a proposal for a new third runway due to booming cargo and travel demand in the region.
Airline groups have pushed for the third runway, which would cost up to HK$136.2 billion (S$21.5 billion), to ensure the airport – the world’s biggest cargo hub in 2010 – stays competitive on the global stage. The project will be the city’s costliest ever infrastructure project, taking into account expected inflation over the 10-year construction period.
But environmentalists say the project, which would include reclamation of 650 hectares of land from the sea, would threaten the survival of Chinese white dolphins, which are already facing population decline.
‘The third runway is going to bring a huge problem to the white dolphins,’ Samuel Hung, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman, told AFP. ‘It will be right at the centre of the dolphin population range in Hong Kong. (The affected area) is usually used as a corridor for them to travel back and forth. It will take the habitat away from the dolphins,’ he said.
Experts say there are about 2,500 of the mammals, also known as pink dolphins, in the Pearl River Delta region, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong. About 100 are in Hong Kong waters with the rest in Chinese waters.
Source: Straits Times