12 June 2000
EIA Report on Lok Ma Chau Spur Line published
 
The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation today (Monday) released the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report on Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line for public inspection.
The report has identified issues of environmental concern and made wide ranging recommendations to mitigate the impact on both human and wildlife habitats including those for the aviary community.
For the first time in Hong Kong, the report recommends that wetland habitats be created for birds before construction starts.The key recommendations are:
  • The ecological value of 28.5 ha of fishponds to the west of Lok Ma Chau Station will be enhanced to enable birds to feed on shallow water of fishponds.
  • Loss of 1.7 ha of wetland habitat in Long Valley will be compensated by an extensive reprovisioning programme of creating 1.8 ha of off-site temporary marshland and 3.8 ha of permanent wetland habitats by upgrading 1.4 ha of meanders along River Beas and creating 2.4 ha of wetland under the viaduct.
  • The effectiveness of the reprovisioning will be monitored by bird specialists who are already carrying out a study on bird movements, using the latest radio techniques for monitoring of a sample of birds.
  • Noisy construction work will not be carried out during birds breeding season.
  • Except the foundation columns, the viaduct will be constructed by pre-casting method and the pre-cast elements will be assembled by launching girders in a way similar to the construction of Hung Hom Bypass.
  • Vehicle access to Long Valley is restricted to the two ends of the narrow strip of railway land.
  • KCRC will deploy environmental and community relations officers on site to supervise contractors - activities and to handle public enquiries and complaints.
Senior Director, Capital Projects, Mr James Blake said, "With these measures in place, we and our experts on bird life are confident that the mitigation measures including reprovisioning on this important natural area will address public concerns.
He pointed out that Mai Po is an area of marshland created by fish and shrimp farmers and that there are many examples in other parts of the world to show that man-made wetland habitats can be recreated with great success.
A case in point is that in UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is managing a 200 ha bird sanctuary in Lakenheath, one of the largest man-made bird habitats in the world.
Mr Blake noted the urgency attached to completing the Spur Line to relieve increasing congestion at Lo Wu, particularly during festival holidays.Passenger safety is a matter of concern, pointing out that over 335,000 boundary crossings were made via Lo Wu on a single day during the last Easter holidays.
"KCRC is ever mindful of public comment and we have looked carefully at all alternative routes including those put forward by concerned parties.Taking into account railway safety, the impact on human and wildlife habitats, the surrounding roads and essential infrastructure facilities, the gazetted route, on balance, as well as technical feasibility is the superior route.
"If it was possible to completely avoid Long Valley, obviously we would do so. However, the gazetted alignment running alongside the area of human habitat at the south end of the valley is the only compromise.
"The area of the valley bounded by river systems, will be left undisturbed.We will do everything reasonably possible to obtain the understanding of the local communities and the green groups including the Bird Watching Society.
"The EIA report has been prepared with input from experts and the findings strike a balance between the impacts on local communities and on the environment, in particular birds habitats, as well as operational safety for the protection of our passengers" Mr Blake said.
The EIA report is now available for inspection at EIA Ordinance Register Office at Southorn Centre, EPD's Environmental Resource Centres at Wan Chai and Tsuen Wan, East Rail Extensions Office at Hung Hom Station and North District Office.