2.                   project description

Location of the Project

2.1               The MFT is a busy cross-boundary ferry terminal.  The location of the proposed expansion works at the existing heliport at the rooftop of the MFT is shown in Figure 1.1.  The areas to the immediate south of the proposed project site are mainly the commercial and mixed commercial/residential buildings along Connaught Road Central, whereas the areas to the north of the site are the MFT Outer Pier and Victoria Harbour.  The Outer Pier is proposed to accommodate berthing and unberthing of cruise ferries.  The Government Pier and the Outlying District Ferry Services Piers are located to the east of the project site, whereas the Sheung Wan ex-Gala Point is on the west.  In the absence of the Project, the future environmental conditions would be expected to be similar to the present. The major noise source would be traffic noise from the heavily trafficked Connaught Road, engine noise from Turbo Jet and helicopter noise from the existing helipad at MFT Building.  Emissions from vehicles and marine vessels would be expected to be the major air quality pollutant source in the study area due to the heavy traffic.

Need of the Project

2.2               The cross-boundary helicopter traffic between Hong Kong and Macau registered a significant growth rate in the past decade and the demand is expected to grow in future.  In addition, with the continuing economic development and increasing integration in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, there is significant potential to capture the untapped market for developing cross-boundary helicopter services, in particular for the time-sensitive travellers.

2.3               The consultancy study on Helicopter Traffic Demand and Heliport Development in Hong Kong (hereinafter referred to as “Main Study”) projected that the overall cross-boundary passenger trips would grow at an average rate of about 9.4% per annum between now and 2020.  The heliport on the rooftop of MFT is the only cross-boundary heliport in the urban area and has been in operation since 1990.  It has one elevated landing/take-off helipad with a designed capacity of 30,700 flight movements per year.  In 2002, the heliport handled 17,883 movements, representing about 60% of its designed capacity, and is expected to reach its designed capacity by end-2006.  The Main Study concluded that expansion works for the existing heliport at MFT should be carried out as soon as possible to meet the anticipated growth in cross-boundary helicopter services.

2.4               The Project is to expand the existing cross-boundary heliport at the rooftop of the MFT by adding one landing/take-off pad and a new connecting taxiway to the existing helipad.  Upon completion of the Project, there will be two helipads operating at the MFT.  The expanded heliport is expected to meet the anticipated demand up to 2015.

Consideration of Alternative Options for New Cross-boundary Helipad Location

2.5               Potential sites for developing cross-boundary heliports are subject to requirements from the perspectives of civil aviation, environmental impact and land use compatibility:

(a)       they have to meet aviation safety and technical requirements including the presence of unobstructed flight paths;

(b)       they should be located in urban areas with good accessibility as helicopter passengers are time-sensitive business and leisure travellers;

(c)       provision of custom, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facilities is a must for cross-boundary heliports; and


(d)       they should be located away from existing residential areas so as to minimise noise impact to nearby residents.

2.6               The Main Study identified the following alternative sites for the development of a cross-boundary heliport to meet the increasing demand for helicopter services in short to medium term:


(i)         Expansion of existing facilities at the rooftop of the inner pier of MFT.


(ii)        Increased use of existing facilities at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).


(iii)      Use of the former Government Flying Services (GFS) base near the ex-Kai Tak runway.


(iv)       Development of a floating heliport at Victoria Harbour.


(v)        Building on a new green field site in the urban area with an earlier timeframe in terms of site availability.



2.7              Helicopter is a speedy transportation mode and provides point-to-point transportation service to time-sensitive cross-border passengers.   The HKIA, which is located out of urban areas, is not suitable for providing regular cross-boundary helicopter services because the travel time between the airport and urban areas is prohibitive for efficient service development.  Because of this factor, the demand for cross-boundary helicopter services to/from HKIA has historically been very low.   From July 2000 to July 2005, there were only about 200 cross-boundary helicopter movements to/from HKIA, which demonstrated that cross-boundary helicopter services at HKIA is not attractive to passengers as well as helicopter operators.

2.8               The former GFS base in Kai Tak is currently used for helicopter parking and refuelling.  The site is of temporary nature and will be returned to Government for other land use.  The site also lacks the necessary CIQ facilities. 

2.9               The development of a floating heliport at Victoria Harbour would be regarded as reclamation which is undesirable and subject to the over-riding public needs test.  A floating heliport would also require a very stable floating platform for helicopters to land on and take off.  Due to safety concern, this option is considered not feasible because the water of Victoria Harbour is rough and wavy.  It would also be inconvenient to passengers as boat access would be required, which defeated the fast and point-to-point characteristic of helicopter services.

2.10           Land is scarce in Hong Kong.  Given the stringent site requirements from perspectives of civil aviation, environmental impact and land use compatibility, suitable sites for developing a cross-boundary heliport could not be identified in an urban green field site with early site availability to meet the increasing demand for cross-boundary helicopter services in short to medium term.

2.11           Among the alternatives examined in the Main Study, options (ii) to (v) above were considered not suitable for developing a cross-boundary heliport.  The rooftop of the inner pier of MFT was the only site suitable and recommended in the Main Study for expansion of heliport facilities to cater for the increasing demand for cross-boundary helicopter traffic. 

2.12           Having an expansion of heliport facilities at the rooftop of MFT would be able to share the existing CIQ facilities inside MFT without incurring additional government resources.  Moreover, this option can be implemented within a short period of time to meet the anticipated growth in cross-boundary helicopter traffic.  Another advantage of this option is the immediate availability of alternative transportation means (i.e. ferry) at MFT to passengers for Macau or certain ports in Pearl River Delta in case of heliport shut down, thus minimising disruption to passengers.

2.13           Regarding environmental considerations, the two existing Shun Tak Buildings would provide noise screening effects to reduce helicopter noise impacts from the new helipad to nearby sensitive receivers.  Expanding the existing heliport facilities at the inner pier of the MFT site, therefore, emerges as the only and most suitable development option to cater for the needs of cross-boundary helicopter services in short to medium term.

Description of the Project

2.14           The development and operation of the Project at the recommended location comprises the following major items:


(a)         Construction of a new elevated landing/take-off helipad of size of about 42m x 42m to the east of the existing helipad;


(b)         Construction of a taxiway to connect the existing and proposed new helipads;


(c)         Renovation, extension and re-location of the existing heliport supporting facilities, e.g. passenger lounge, crew office and flight control room;


(d)         Provision of additional means of access, e.g. escalators and access to/from the helipads; and


(e)         Expansion of the existing helipad from size of about 29.75m x 29.75m to about 32m x 32m.


2.15           The locations of the existing and proposed landing/take-off helipads and the proposed taxiway are shown in Figure 1.1.  Other heliport supporting facilities may be located within the MFT Building or its rooftop. 

2.16           The expansion of the existing helipad would not cause significant environmental impacts during construction phase due to limited scale of works.  As the expansion work is to fulfil the safety requirement, the maximum capacity of the expanded helipad would still be 8 movements per hour and the existing allowable number of flight frequency during 1801 – 2259 would not be changed.  The types of operated helicopters at the expanded existing helipad would not change either.  There are no adverse environmental impacts of the surrounding area expected during operation phase and environmental impact assessment for the expansion of the existing helipad is considered unnecessary. 

Project Programme

2.17           The construction works for the expanded heliport are tentatively estimated to commence in mid 2006 for completion in end 2007, with a tentative duration of 18 months. 

Construction and Operational Activities

2.18           The existing heliport is permitted to operate from 8:00 am to 10:59 pm everyday.   It is assumed that the operating hours of the expanded heliport would remain the same.  Upon completion of the expansion project, there will be two helipads operating at the MFT.  The frequency of the helicopter services and time of operation are detailed in Table 3.6.

2.19           The proposed new helipad on the roof-top of the Inner Pier of the MFT would be carried out using existing pile caps on site.  No marine piles would be required and no dredging of marine sediment would be carried out for the Project.  The aluminium design for the proposed new landing/take-off pad would be built on the existing rooftop of the MFT Inner Pier.  The aluminium trusses would be built offsite and then transported to the MFT Pier by barge.  The aluminium trusses would then be fixed on site and connected to the existing pile cap.  There would not be any demolition of existing structures for the expansion works.  During construction period, if the derrick barge berths at the western end of the Inner Pier for the purpose of handling construction or maintenance materials, its size should not be more than 24m in length and its operation would not cause any interruption / adverse effect on the normal operations of the terminal (including ferry services).  The barge would not pass underneath any of the over-hanging bridges of the terminal. 

Public Consultation

2.20           The Economic Services Panel of the Legislative Council was consulted on the MTF heliport expansion proposal on 15 January 2004.  The Panel members were generally in support of the project proposal.  The proposal was then discussed at the Central and Western District Council (C&WDC) meetings on 12 February and 25 March 2004.  The C&WDC members requested that an EIA Study be carried out first by the Government, prior to the tendering process of the heliport expansion project, to provide further information for their consideration.