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Below are four letters which appeared in the South China Morning Post in which the Tung Chung Sustainable Development Alliance, the Living Islands Movement, Designing Hong Kong and Dolphin Watch present their case for improvements to the proposed road links and border crossing facilities related to the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge.

Link road for Zhuhai bridge will damage Lantau's coastline

The Highways Department has hoodwinked the public over the impact of the proposed route of the link road from the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge and is now trying to do the same to members of the Legislative Council.

There is strong public opposition to the proposed route of the link road of the bridge, after it reaches Hong Kong. Tung Chung Sustainable Development Alliance and other local community organisations have voiced concerns to the department regarding the impact of the proposed link road and have made counter proposals for a viable alternative.

The Highways Department's plan will result in:

• Vehicle emissions and noise pollution within half a kilometre of Tung Chung town centre and other residential developments;

• Permanent damage to Tung Chung Bay and the surrounding Lantau Island coastline; and

• Damage to the Lantau Island-Tung Chung tourist experience and for visitors using the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, with a potential economic impact by reducing the tourist attraction of the area.

There is an alternative route for the link road. Tung Chung Sustainable Development Alliance has provided a new outline plan to the department. The alternative route would:

• Lessen vehicle emissions and noise pollution affecting Tung Chung residents as the road would be located out of sight of Tung Chung town centre;

• Avoid a negative impact on health of the Tung Chung population; and

• Ensure there is no impact on the natural beauty of the Lantau coastline and Tung Chung Bay.

We urge the Legislative Council Panel on Transport to take account of the public opposition to the road route proposed by the department. It should adopt a plan that lessens the negative impact of this bridge. There will be huge damage to the undersea environment, the coastline, to dolphins and to the health of Hong Kong people if the Highways Department does not agree to change the plans for this road.

Martin Purbrick, for Tung Chung Sustainable Development Alliance
Published in the South China Morning Post on May 05, 2009

A bridge too fast

The "sponsored feature" for the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge ("Bridge to a new era of opportunity", April 30), seems to imply a design has already been decided - one that our own design studies show is not optimal.

The Living Islands Movement is not an "anti" group, nor are we a "green" group. We aim to work proactively with the government in the planning stages to help develop better and more sustainable solutions. Such a major and costly project must be properly evaluated.

The advertised solution (which appears to have government backing) suggests taxpayers and other stakeholders will not be getting maximum value for the enormous expenditure involved. We must ask through these columns for clarification of the position on this project, since the sponsored feature raises more questions than it answers.

E. E. J. Bunker, chairman, The Living Islands Movement
Published in the South China Morning Post on May 08, 2009

Location of border crossing will benefit engineers, not dolphins

I refer to the "sponsored feature" ("Bridge to a new era of opportunity", April 30), regarding the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.

Director of Highways Wai Chi-sing, makes an astounding claim that he is protecting the Chinese white dolphin. He goes as far as stating that he has made a special effort to avoid obstructing the dolphins' feeding grounds to justify locating the border crossing facility east of the airport.

He completely ignores the fact that this would have a greater impact on the dolphins. He now places the crossing facility right next to the Brothers, one of their critical habitat areas. Moreover, he separates the project from all the other related works such as the road links.

The project as a whole will decimate the dolphins' habitat. Mr Wai claims that studies show that the "construction would not significantly affect the dolphins". Which studies are these and which marine scientists have agreed with this?

Based on 15 years of experience we can say with certainty that filling in the sea with concrete destroys habitats and fishing grounds forever.

Astoundingly he seems unsure how to manage the obvious conflict between his project and the dolphins, as he states that work would be "temporarily halted if dolphins were spotted too close to building work". Who is the designated spotter? Who decides when to go back to work? In the silty waters of north Lantau a dolphin is not visible when only about half a metre below the surface. The work will always be too close to the dolphins, not the other way round. It is in their critical habitat and they are always there, regardless of visibility.

In an ideal world this white elephant bridge and the Tuen Mun link would at least go underground and if anyone is sensible there would be a rail tunnel from Tung Chung to Macau and Zhuhai.

The full-page advertisement tries hard to hide the fact that the location of the border crossing facility and the road links have been chosen to make life easy for the highway engineers, irrespective of the life of the supposedly protected dolphins.

Janet Walker, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch
Published in the South China Morning Post on May 12, 2009

New bridge appears even more ill-conceived as details emerge

I refer to the "sponsored feature" from an unnamed source ("Bridge to a new era of opportunity", April 30), heralding the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge as a stunning landmark. A close look reveals a failure by the financial secretary and his Lantau Development Taskforce to deliver a sustainable master plan for the airport and Tung Chung.

Director of Highways Wai Chi-sing explains that he has yet to consider how the arrival of bus passengers from Macau and Zhuhai will be integrated with the airport. He makes it clear that the existing automated people mover will not be used forcing passengers to change transport several times. There is also no indication of the planned Shenzhen express rail.

The advert celebrates 50,000 vehicles a day but does not mention how their use of congested roads in Hong Kong will be minimised. There is no mention of a new MTR at the border crossing to take people into town.

The border crossing facilities are located right in front of the growing population of Tung Chung. Mr Wai explains that he puts this source of air, noise and light pollution close to residents of Tung Chung and the future extensions of the town because he does not want to disturb dolphin routes on the west, conveniently ignoring that he will destroy the dolphin habitat on the east of the airport.

With the exit of the bridge in the middle of the water rather than at the airport island there will be a long road on stilts - a new "Eastern Island Corridor" (did we not learn our lessons?) - destroying Lantau from Tai O to Tung Chung. There has been no serious study of putting traffic out of sight and allowing emissions to disperse before reaching Tung Chung by running this link road north of the airport.

Hong Kong may be in a hurry, but that is no reason for making 2009 the year all the bad decisions are made. Our children, airport users and Tung Chung residents deserve better than a city where road engineers are left to run amok.

Paul Zimmerman, founding member, Designing Hong Kong
Published in the South China Morning Post on May 08, 2009
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