Grannie Green Revivial

For post before Aug 09, please read it with Traditional Chi Big 5 Code

Chp 10, Night flight at Kai Tak – Forty years champion for the environment

Night flight at Kai Tak

To support the growing air traffic, the Kai Tak airport runway had to be extended in 1973. But it was more than the runway which government wanted extended – plans were announced to stretch the operating hours of the airport to 24 hours.

The proposal would have affected over 1 million people under the flight path. Led by Carl Nielsen of its Noise Subcommittee, CA mounted a campaign to oppose it. So said the Editorial of the March 1973 issue of the SOS Environment, “the proposed relaxation of the present ban on night flight is a backward step, unworthy of a forward looking city like ours; it is an unwarranted attack on the nerves and mental faculties of a large number of our own citizens. The price we pay for it is more than it is worth.” CA’s stand was supported by many who flooded the letters pages of the newspapers.

CA’s protest took both the traditional form of written petitions as well as the more radical form, by the standard of the 1970s, of demonstrations and protest banners involving residents of Kowloon City and Tai Hang Tung. If that seemed like activist, it was also firmly knowledge-based: CA made it clear that it was not against the aviation industry per se, nor the high-value air freight services which were important for the economy. But the health hazard to millions of people could not be compromised, and CA called for “a new airport, away from population concentrations, where we can maintain a twenty-four hour service, to expand our airborne trade…” (Editorial of SOS Environment, September 1974). The government finally gave in and the night flight proposal was dropped.

A variation of the same happened twenty years later when government, then with the new airport project in full swing, proposed to stretch the closing hour of Kai Tak Airport from 11:30pm to 12:30am, to create more slots for aircrafts to take off and land. The extension, so it was reasoned, would bring in an extra $4.3b tourist dollars and $160M landing charges. The Director of Aviation, Peter Lok, even spent a night in Kowloon City in an attempt to demonstrate that the additional noise was bearable – a move strongly criticized by CA, who held that health and environmental quality must not be compromised. The matter dragged on for another half a year and eventually, reason prevailed and the government informed CA in July 1995 that the proposal had been withdrawn.

With the opening of the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998, the Kai Tak airport, and the associated aircraft noise pollution, has become a thing of the past.

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April 16, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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