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
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.
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.
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.
of Alternative Options for New Cross-boundary Helipad Location
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.
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:
of existing facilities at the rooftop of the inner pier of MFT.
use of existing facilities at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).
the former Government Flying Services (GFS) base near the ex-Kai Tak runway.
of a floating heliport at Victoria Harbour.
on a new green field site in the urban area with an earlier timeframe in terms
of site availability.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The development and operation of the
Project at the recommended location comprises the following major items:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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