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Old July 31st, 2010, 08:24 AM   #361
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Shenzhen, June 30 by Starlight from skyscrapers.cn :



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Old August 1st, 2010, 04:39 PM   #362
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Rail link moving rapidly as HK$18b contracts awarded
14 July 2010
SCMP

Just months after bitter street protests against the project, the controversial express rail link to Guangzhou is moving swiftly ahead in West Kowloon with HK$18 billion worth of contracts awarded.

MTR projects director Chew Tai-chong said these represented 27 per cent of the HK$66.9 billion price tag for the 26-kilometre line, the world's most expensive railway per kilometre. The MTR Corp has been entrusted by the Hong Kong government to design, build and operate the city's section of the railway. It will eventually link with the mainland's 18,000-kilometre network of high-speed railways carrying trains that reach speeds of 350 km/h.

"We are continuing to award projects," Chew said at the High Speed Rail Asia 2010 conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

The expedient start to the project belies the controversy surrounding the link, which sparked some of the most bitter protests seen in Hong Kong in recent years.

Protesters took to the streets and clashed with police in January as they voiced concerns about the high price tag and the environmental impact of the project. There was also criticism that the terminus for the line was in Shibi, Panyu - a 45-minute metro ride from the present city centre of Guangzhou in Tianhe.

There are still concerns that the project will run over budget and face labour shortages because of the tight construction schedules.

The undersecretary for transport and housing, Yau Shing-mu, said rigs and cranes were already popping up over the future terminus in West Kowloon. The railway will run underground to the border, requiring massive excavation of soil.

"We are going to create a big hole by excavating 10 million cubic metres of rock," Yau said.

Tunnelling contracts will be awarded by the end of the year, as well as for the West Kowloon Terminus Station South.

During construction 5,500 trees will be felled, 5,500 trees planted and 1,100 trees transplanted, Chew said. In the next few years, the project will need 9,000 of the 17,000 workers required for all new rail projects in Hong Kong.

Getting those workers would be a challenge for the MTR Corp, Chew said. Most construction workers in Hong Kong are over 50 years old and "construction is no longer attractive to young people".

Chew did not see a need to import foreign construction workers, but it was possible Hong Kong would need to import specialist engineers.

Nonetheless, Chew said the MTR Corp was capable of completing the project by the deadline of August 2015 and within the HK$66.9 billion budget.

Others are not so sure the company can achieve this goal.

"There is indeed quite a risk of cost overruns because of the technical complexity of underground work in urban congested areas," said Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of Professional Commons, a group that opposed the railway and proposed a cheaper alternative.

Because West Kowloon is reclaimed land, there is a high risk of poor sediment conditions, which may incur extra costs, said Lai, who is a qualified engineer.

An engineering consultant close to the project said: "The risk of inflation above budget is high. There is going to be huge demand for construction resources in Hong Kong. It is expected there will be a big push in prices as everyone is going to bid for limited resources."

Since the Hong Kong government will foot the bill for the railway, "if it goes over budget, who pays?" the consultant asked.

"The taxpayer. Who will criticise the MTR? Legco. There is a big political and financial risk there."
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 05:48 PM   #363
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Not much of a high-speed investment returns-wise
15 July 2010
SCMP

To justify the cost of spending HK$66.9 billion on the controversial cross-border express rail link, the MTR Corporation has projected that the high-speed line will generate 42 million hours of time savings worth HK$87 billion for 50 years after it begins operations in 2016.

The company will design, construct and operate the Hong Kong-Guangzhou railway.

However, if you put the HK$66.9 billion with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which invests Hong Kong government funds, it would earn HK$234 billion in 50 years, according to Albert Lai Kwong-tak, the chairman of Professional Commons, a group that opposes the project and has proposed a cheaper alternative.

He bases that figure on a non-compound annual rate of return of 5 per cent. If we assume a compound annual return of 5 per cent, then the total sum would grow more than 10 times to exceed HK$669 billion in 50 years.

The railway doesn't look like much of a high-speed investment when it comes to returns.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:02 PM   #364
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It seems no one has mentioned that a dedicated site has been set up by MTR for the Hong Kong section of the rail link which has been online for a while:

http://www.expressraillink.hk/

Only Chinese version is available currently. English version will follow soon.
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Old August 10th, 2010, 03:02 PM   #365
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HK$50b deals for HK rail link expected
16 July 2010
SCMP

The value of new contracts awarded for Hong Kong's contentious high-speed railway will balloon to tens of billions of dollars this year, said a contractor bidding for the deals.

By the end of the year, new work awarded for the express rail link will probably be roughly three times the HK$18 billion given out so far, said Edmund Leung Kwong-ho, managing director of Hsin Chong Construction Group. "It will be tens of billions of dollars by the end of the year."

Since the project was approved by the Legislative Council in January, 14 major contracts worth HK$18 billion have been awarded by the MTR Corporation, which is entrusted by the government to design, build and operate the 26-kilometre rail link to Guangzhou, said MTR projects director Chew Tai-chong on Tuesday.

The total budget for the rail link, the world's most expensive railway per kilometre, is HK$66.9 billion and the project is scheduled for completion by August 2015.

Just months after street protests against the project, the controversial link is moving swiftly ahead. Protesters took to the streets and clashed with police in January as they voiced concerns about the high price tag and the environmental impact of the project. There was also criticism that the terminus for the line was in Shibi, Panyu - a 45-minute metro ride from Guangzhou's city centre in Tianhe.

"There is still a large part of the express rail contracts that are at the tender stage, including parts of the West Kowloon terminus, electrical and mechanical works," Leung said. "We are talking billions of dollars of tenders for which we will be bidding. We have submitted bids for some of them.

"We are working overtime and weekends to get in the tenders. There are many civil engineering projects with a limited number of contractors.

"Unless we do something silly, we should get some projects. I'm optimistic we will be winning enough projects to keep our team going for a few years."

So far, Hsin Chong has won two express rail contracts. One involves a tunnel near the Shenzhen border. The company partnered China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC), a state-owned company, to win the project worth HK$1.69 billion.

Dragages Hong Kong, a French construction firm, recently won its second contract for the express rail link - a 2.95km twin-track tunnel and two single-track tunnels.

Although the size of the express rail contracts may be huge, profit margins are squeezed, Leung said. "The problem for contractors like us is if we win a job by competitive tender the margins are normally small.

"When we bid for a job, we allow for contingencies of added resources and delays. If we minimise these, these contingencies become profits."
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Old August 13th, 2010, 06:13 PM   #366
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Express rail study missed 41 species, group says
27 July 2010
South China Morning Post

The MTR Corp's ecological impact assessment for the cross-border express rail link last year missed out at least 41 fauna species present in Tsoi Yuen Tsuen, an eco-education group said yesterday.

Most of the 41 species not recorded were common species and it was inexcusable that the MTR ecological survey had not noticed and recorded them, said Ken Ching See-ho, director of the Eco-education and Resources Centre. Ching released the results of their study that cross-checked the MTR's survey.

The group's survey, which covered an area of 0.7 square kilometres at the village between October and June, found 23 butterfly species, 10 bird species and eight dragonfly species, most of which are common, were not recorded among the 136 species noted in the MTR's assessment of the Kam Tin and Shek Kong area. The group also found that rare or uncommon species were not mentioned in the MTR's report, such as Bonelli's eagle and the common birdwing butterfly, both protected species.

"The MTR's assessment not only failed to record rare species, but also to include dozens of common birds and insects," Ching said. "Some of them are so easily seen in ditches that you can't miss them."

The MTR's ecological survey, released in May last year, was part of its environmental impact assessment for the express railway project. The company had appointed AECOM Environment to conduct it.

The consultant had concluded that "no direct impact to significant areas nor species of conservation interest are anticipated from the project".

Ching also criticised the Environmental Protection Department for not having a cross-checking mechanism for environmental impact assessments conducted by consultants appointed by project proponents.

Tsoi Yuen Tsuen, planned as the emergency rescue station for the underground express rail, became a rallying point for anti-rail protests earlier this year. Hundreds of young people supported local villagers who did not want to quit farming and leave their homes. The Legislative Council approved funding for the HK$66.9 billion project in January.

The MTR said yesterday that its ecological survey had been conducted over more than six months and covered both dry and wet seasons. Detailed discussions had been held with relevant government departments before the scope and methodology of the survey was agreed.

It said the environmental impact of the project would be continuously monitored and the results posted on its website monthly.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 05:48 PM   #367
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High-speed rail stations urged for airports
16 July 2010
SCMP

China is not doing enough to prevent high-speed trains killing off domestic intercity flights, transport executives said yesterday in Hong Kong.

One way to diminish the impact of the country's growing express-rail network would be to locate high-speed train stations at airports, the executives said at the High Speed Rail Asia 2010 Conference.

"Rail and air can co-operate or compete," said Andrew Sharp, director general of the International Air Rail Organisation.

"High-speed rail stations at airports can capture traffic on a route and high-speed rail stations at airports are essential."

He said passengers interconnecting to at least three cities were more likely to take high-speed trains if a station was located at the air- port where they were making connections.

"China can do more to connect its airports to its high-speed rail network," said Sharp, noting that almost none of the country's airports have high-speed rail stations.

One rare exception is the Hongqiao high-speed railway station at Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, which opened on July 1.

Not all airports would be suited, for example, it might not be a good idea to locate a high-speed train station at Chek Lap Kok airport, he said. A high-speed station at Hong Kong airport would encourage passengers to take the railway to Shenzhen airport, where they will connect to domestic mainland flights, hurting Hong Kong airport's mainland connections, he said.

Mainland airlines are nervously eyeing the roll out of high-speed railways across the country.

Since the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway opened at the end of last year, passenger numbers for China Southern Airlines on that route have fallen.

Since a high-speed rail link between Zhengzhou and Xian started operation in February, all flights between the two cities have ceased.

High-speed railways could take up to 90 per cent of the high-end market for trips under two hours and 50 to 70 per cent of journeys under four hours, according to a study by carnoc.com, a website run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The country has the world's most extensive high-speed rail network at 6,920 kilometres and plans to extend that to 13,000 kilometres within two years.

While high-speed railways are hurting flights in China, Europe has far better co-operation between high-speed railway and air travel, Sharp said.

Europe has about half a dozen airports with long-distance high-speed train stations, including Amsterdam, Paris, Lyons and Zurich. Many more airports have short-distance high-speed rail connections.

Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport has a high-speed rail station connecting it to at least 20 European cities. In Switzerland, passengers could check in their baggage at a high-speed train station, take a train to Zurich Airport and connect to a flight without rechecking baggage.

On crowded air corridors, high-speed railway can be a help instead of a threat to air travel, said Bryan Nye, chief executive of the Australasian Railway Association, which represents the railway industry in Australia and New Zealand.

For instance, the Sydney-Melbourne route is the third busiest air corridor in the world, Nye said.

The Australian government is currently considering an east coast high-speed railway linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 05:53 PM   #368
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sour grapes from those selling a now-obsolete form of transportation
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Old August 14th, 2010, 11:15 PM   #369
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Quote:
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sour grapes from those selling a now-obsolete form of transportation
Which form of transportation is now obsolete?
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:16 AM   #370
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chornedsnorkack View Post
Which form of transportation is now obsolete?
Short/Medium range flights I guess?
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Old August 15th, 2010, 01:26 AM   #371
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Which form of transportation is now obsolete?
flights on the same routes as high speed rail
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:15 PM   #372
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Quote:
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flights on the same routes as high speed rail
Very well. How easy is it now to get, in Guangzhou, from Wuhan-Guangzhou high speed railway to New Baiyun airport terminal?
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Old August 19th, 2010, 08:46 PM   #373
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Terminus buries roads to link with district
18 August 2010
SCMP

Pedestrians are a major beneficiary of the MTR Corp's plan for the multibillion-dollar West Kowloon terminus of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which it unveiled yesterday and which will go to public tender before the end of the year.

The plan calls for roads that separate the terminus from the West Kowloon Cultural District, such as Austin Road, to be put underground, allowing pedestrians to walk to the cultural district without impediment.

Yet inbound travellers wanting to catch a train to Central will have to walk for about 10 minutes in the open to Kowloon station, although the walk to Austin station for connections elsewhere will take only about two minutes.

A large piazza planted with vegetation will front the western exit and part of it will be designated for public performances.

The MTR's general manager for the high-speed link, Paul Lo Po-hing, said the station would be a landmark.

"It will be a place for people to spend their leisure time, to relax, and to enjoy the green features and open areas with their friends and family," he said.

Most of the 11-hectare terminus, the final stop on a national high-speed rail network that will extend to Beijing, Shanghai and beyond, will be underground. It will rise about 15 metres above ground - about five floors of a residential building - with four of its five storeys burrowing 20 metres below ground.

The building will form an archway over which pedestrians will be able to walk. The highest point will provide a view across the cultural district.

Lo said that as well as glass ceilings, which will allow sunlight to penetrate two floors underground, the terminus would use other energy-saving features, such as seawater cooling plants for air conditioning and a rainwater harvesting system.

Preparatory work on the station, which began in January, precedes work on the West Kowloon Cultural District, plans for which will be released on Friday. But an MTR spokeswoman said the terminus design factored in flexibility for future integration with the cultural district.

Options were available in the terminus and Austin station for possible subways linking to other buildings, while space had been set aside to allow mainland and Hong Kong immigration clearances to be carried out on the same floor.

Yau Tsim Mong District Council chairman Edmond Chung Kong-mo said the design was better than he had expected.

"The terminus looks bright and spacious, and the greening features extend all the way to Yau Ma Tei," he said. "I think residents in the neighbourhood will welcome it."

About three hectares of the public space around the terminus will be covered in vegetation.

However, it is not known whether the public will be allowed to walk on the grass.

An engineer opposed to the project, Civic Party member Albert Lai Kwong-tak, said there was still much concern in the community about the connection between the terminus and its neighbourhood.
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Old August 21st, 2010, 07:33 PM   #374
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Kier Construction Awarded GBP125M Tunnelling Pact By MTR Corp.
19 August 2010

LONDON (Dow Jones)--Kier Group PLC (KIE.LN) said Thursday Kier Construction has been awarded a GBP125 million tunnelling contract by the MTR Corp. (MTRJY) in Hong Kong as part of a three-way joint venture in which Kier Construction holds a 50% share.

MAIN FACTS:

-Kaden Construction (Hong Kong) and Spanish contractor Obras Subterraneas SA (OSSA) are Kier's JV partners.

-The project is part of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, or XRL, connecting mainland China and Hong Kong.

-Work involves the sinking of two deep shafts and two 2.6 kilometer long, 7.5 meter wide railway tunnels which will be constructed by drilling and blasting through hard rock.

-The construction team will start work immediately and completion is scheduled for May 2015.

-Shares of Kier Group at 0833 GMT up 7 pence or 0.69%, at 1025 pence, valuing the company at GBP384.1 million.
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Old August 22nd, 2010, 01:53 AM   #375
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Futian station in August

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Old September 8th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #376
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Old September 8th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #377
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An eco-haven to bring the message home
31 August 2010
SCMP

I love the idea that the MTR Corporation plans to build a three-hectare rooftop park at the West Kowloon terminus of the express rail link to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

If we also consider the three designs for the West Kowloon Cultural District - starting with Rocco Yim's multi-level greenery, Rem Koolhass' communal herb farms, and in particular Norman Foster's 19-hectare park with over 5,000 trees - West Kowloon could possibly become the much-needed inner eden of our city.

All good, but would we know how to enjoy such a great, green space? We have become so trained by ropes and signs not to walk on the grass, never mind sit or lie on it, that we're used to leaving our small areas of city green for the birds to enjoy, instead.

Any successful park space - according to the New York-based nonprofit group Project for Public Spaces - has to be a lively area and a place where people want to be, are allowed to enjoy it and can easily get to; with at least 10 distinct destinations within the park that will complement one another and create vibrancy. It calls this idea the "power of 10".

Another thing that makes a successful park is how it is managed. Central Park in New York, for example, is managed by the Central Park Conservancy. It is responsible for day-to-day maintenance; establishes a wide range of activities, events and educational programmes throughout the park; and has an extensive volunteer programme.

In my mind, what's missing from all the West Kowloon proposals, or indeed anywhere in Hong Kong, is a building or an eco-destination that is dedicated to celebrating the rich cultural and artistic value that the environment brings to our lives.

If we look to the Eden Project in Cornwall, England, it is far more than its iconic greenhouse biomes and its planted landscapes.

It is a place that successfully encourages people to think differently about the environment and it is a hot bed of new ideas. It is also a place that works with artists and musicians to keep people entertained and enthused about the environment.

The Eden Project understands that "saving the planet" must come from collective action rather than a series of individual actions, and one brilliant way to "rally the collective" is to inspire people through creativity and performance.

These days, as the angry red clock of climate change and other environmental problems loom over us, just thinking about the environment can be depressing, and all of us have much to learn and do. Hong Kong really needs an environmental haven to educate, entertain and immerse us in the realities of today's environmental problems and solutions, as well as providing fun and excitement for the entire family.

It makes sense - especially if it turns out that we can't sit on the grass after all.

Ciara Shannon was born in Hong Kong and is the founder of Eden Ventures. She has worked on environmental and development issues for the past 16 years, including initiating and running the Climate Change Business Forum for the Business Environment Council
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Old September 9th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #378
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Hong Kong losing farming villages
2 September 2010
Nikkei Weekly

HONG KONG - Choi Yuen Village in the New Territories is one of the handful of agricultural villages remaining in Hong Kong. Later this year, however, the remote village will be witness to the abrupt end of about 50 years of history. That is because the village will be cut in half by the construction of a high-speed express rail line to China - the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

The Hong Kong government has set October as the date by which the village is to be evacuated. The backlash from residents who are losing the land that has long been their home is deep-rooted, but preparations to depart are steadily progressing. Many of the residents are elderly, their faces tinged with expressions of resignation.

The quiet village is situated about an hour by bus from the glass-and-concrete center of Hong Kong. Nestled in the lush green hills, flat-roofed houses dot the landscape. The scenery is vastly different from the skyscrapers in the city's heartland. In all, just over 500 people live in Choi Yuen. They cultivate the tiny plain, continuing a lifestyle unrelated to the hustle and bustle of the city.

One older resident in his 70s was only 16 when he moved to the village, which in those days had practically no residents. For around five decades since then, he has made a living tending cattle and growing vegetables. For a time, he worked in the construction industry, but farming seemed to suit his nature better. He returned to the fields of the village and has since passed day after quiet day raising his vegetables.

It was in the winter of 2008 when the residents were first told they had to evacuate. "It was absurd for them to tell us this so suddenly," he recalls. The villagers have protested, but the government's plans are unchanging. Eventually, even the long-time farmer agreed to leave, although still with some anxieties. "If I plant seeds now, I wonder if I will be able to harvest before I have to leave," he laments, with a sigh.

Travel time halved

The high-speed rail line passing through Choi Yuen will open in 2014. It will first link with Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, and later provide direct service to Beijing via Guangzhou. The travel time to Beijing will be shortened by more than half to 10 hours.

However, the rail line's popularity among Hong Kong residents is questionable. Less than 50% of the population supports the plan, with many expressing the opinion that being able to get to the mainland by plane is sufficient. In particular, growing numbers of younger people in their 20s are questioning why the silhouette of old Hong Kong has to disappear, leading to incidents in which protestors opposing the rail link have surrounded the Legislative Council.

Despite this, Hong Kong's government is moving ahead with construction. It has indicated it will press forward regardless of appearance, as evidenced by the arrest of Christina Chan, a 22-year-old university student who is one of the leaders of the opposition movement. Behind its stubbornness in sticking to the construction plans without listening to the opinions of residents opposed to them is the fact that this is a pet project of China's.

The Chinese government is pushing a plan to link the entirety of the country with a high-speed rail network. It has already broken ground for a rail line within the province of Guangdong, and it is easy to imagine that it has pressed the Hong Kong government to begin construction soon.

While Hong Kong is a special administrative region with independent administrative authority, it lacks the power to rebuff the intentions of the Chinese government. Accompanying growth in China's economy, the policies of Hong Kong's government have increasingly come to rely on China, making it difficult for them to reflect the opinions of its residents. "No matter what we say, it's useless," a woman in her 70s who runs a variety shop in the village says, with a look of resignation.

Trifled with by government policies that look to Beijing for direction, Choi Yuen is a microcosm of Hong Kong society. In the shadow of growing unification with China, Hong Kong's originality is disappearing.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 12:25 PM   #379
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Are these farmers getting compensation?
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Old September 10th, 2010, 01:31 PM   #380
hkskyline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaeus View Post


Are these farmers getting compensation?
Of course, yes - and it's reasonable compensation. However, what's more at stake is the community's fabric, as residents have lived for many years and don't want to be housed in the city, but want to keep their countryside setting and community intact.
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