Friends of the Earth Korea Open Letter: Halt Plans for a Second Airport on Jeju Island
An open letter to the Honorable Kim Hyun-mee, Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Republic of Korea. Below is an abbreviated version of the letter. For the full text, with citations, follow the link at the bottom of the page.
Dear Minister Kim Hyun-mee,
To the background of the global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, the undersigned individuals and organizations wish to highlight their grave concerns over the proposed construction of a second airport on South Korea's Jeju Island.
With 82,000 flights and 14 million passengers a year, Seoul’s Gimpo airport to Jeju Island is the world’s busiest flight path. Containing three UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites, Jeju Island is a place of outstanding natural beauty, but is limited in space and resources, relying almost entirely on groundwater to sustain its 690,000 residents. Skyrocketing tourist numbers in recent years have pushed Jeju's infrastructure to the brink and led to the destruction of large tracts of the island’s precious forest cover. The South Korean government now wants to build a second massive airport on Jeju. The aim: a combined total of 41 million passengers a year to the island.
Jeju residents, supported by environmental groups in South Korea, are calling for a suspension of planned construction until the government can demonstrate that the new airport will not disenfranchise local communities or undermine Korea’s commitments to conserve biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new airport is being constructed for short-term gain, but ignores long-term risks. Jeju Island has no major rivers and has difficulty constructing surface water reservoirs, due to the island being composed of porous volcanic rock. Jeju Island thus relies almost entirely on groundwater supplies. As groundwater levels fall due to over-extraction for tourism, and as sea-levels rise due to climate change, salt-water intrusion and pollution from development threaten the groundwater resources that have sustained the island’s population for millennia.
We the undersigned therefore call on the South Korean government to conduct a comprehensive, international best-standard Environmental Impact Assessment for the second Jeju airport and to cancel the plan outright if there is evidence that it will disenfranchise local communities; threaten biodiversity; and/or undermine commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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