Hong Kong’s ambitious plans to expand its airport to meet the increased requirements were met by protests of the environmentalists, who claim that it will endanger the life of rare Chinese white dolphins.
The southern city of China launched last week review of the plan to expand its 20-year-old airport, which includes a proposal to create a new third runway due to an increase in freight and tourist needs.
Airlines have achieved permission to create a third runway, the cost of which will reach nearly 136.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($ 17.5 billion) to ensure that the airport with the largest cargo hub in 2010, will remain competitive on the global stage. The project will be the most expensive infrastructure project in the city, which take into account the expected inflation over the 10-year construction period.
But environmentalists report that the project, which will take away 650 hectares (1,600 acres) of land from the sea, can threaten the lives of the Chinese white dolphin, whose numbers have significantly decreased. "A third runway would be a huge problem for the white dolphin" - said Samuel Hung (Samuel Hung), chairman of the Society for the Protection of Dolphins in Hong Kong, the news agency AFP. "It will be right in the center of the range of the population of dolphins in Hong Kong. Cycled area of sea animals is usually used as a corridor to travel back and forth. This will take away the habitat of dolphins" - he explained.
Experts also say that there are about 2,500 mammals, also known as the pink dolphins in the Pearl River Delta region, the source of water between Macau and Hong Kong. About 100 of them live in the waters of Hong Kong, and the rest - in Chinese waters. Dolphins, which are a subspecies of humpback dolphins swimming in the waters between the Indian and Pacific oceans, unique pink color of their skin. They are included in the list of animals "put under threat of extinction" by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.
It is known that marine mammal was the official mascot of the handover of Hong Kong to mainland China in 1997, and watch the dolphins at Hong Kong tourists come from all over the world.
But Hung said that their population is undergoing a "significant decline" in the past few years, due to over-fishing, increased movements in the sea, water pollution, habitat loss and development banks. "Hong Kong is full of white dolphins despite such a small area of water. For us it is very important to protect the population" - said Andy Cornish (Andy Cornish), Director of Animal Conservation Society in Hong Kong, the news agency AFP.
"The influence of the environment is essential. WWF is not against industrial development, but the people of Hong Kong should be aware of the impact" - said Cornish on plans for airport expansion.
There are also concerns that a third runway could worsen the condition of the city is already polluted air and prevent the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions up to 33% by 2020. Poor air quality is the reason that a city with a population of seven million is often shrouded in smog.
Advocates of the idea of a new runway, including the flagship airline of Hong Kong and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said that a third runway is needed because the current two runways are projected to be insufficient by 2020, according to the data of airport management. Airport expansion plan also includes another option, which includes two runway and increasing the funds with an estimated value of HK $ 42,5 billions.
"If the Hong Kong International Airport will not be expanded to meet future air traffic demands, there will be adverse sea" - warned Stanley High (Stanley Hui), a senior official airport of Hong Kong. The cost of the new runway will be much higher than HK $ 55 billion, compared with the existing facilities at the airport, which was opened in 1998, has jumped because of the prices of building materials and the required amount to be recovered.
Airport, ranked third in the world for international traffic, since 2010, after London and Paris. The busiest single day in April was the day in which the airport is carried out in air travel in 1003. By 2010, it was already transported 4.1 million tons of cargo and 50.9 million passengers.
Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter