All 21 airports across Vietnam are expected to install security fencing in the next few years in an effort to set up a safety corridor for both the airports and surrounding residential areas.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, head of the Transport Ministry's Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Lai Xuan Thanh said only a few of the nation's 21 airports have proper fencing.

This lack of fencing could result in people or animals walking onto airport runways, and threaten the airport security, he said, noting that at some airports, staff were mobilised to keep animals off runways when planes to land or take off.

The shortage of airport fencing also caused households in surrounding areas to expand onto airport property and consequently, their houses have been built too close to the airport and are vulnerable to sound pollution and other problems.

For a long time, people living near the airports have complained about when airplanes are landing or taking off.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported that in 1975, Tan Son Nhat Airport was planned to cover an area of 3,600 hectares, but due to a lack of vision and improper planning, parts of the airport lands were allocated for people and organisations. Yet today, the airport covers an area of 1,500ha, hosting about 400 flights daily.

According to Go Vap district's Urban Management Department, in 2002 the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee approved a proposal by Tan Son Nhat Airport for the removal of local houses to create a five-metre safety corridor for the airport.

People living in the corridor will not be able to build new houses and could not receive land-use rights certificates because of delays of house removals, said Le Hoang Ha, vice chairman of the Go Vap district People's Committee.

Vice director of Ho Chi Minh City's Planning and Architecture Department Nguyen Thanh Toan said it is necessary to set up an airport safety corridor, but site clearance and land acquisitions might cause trouble for local residents.

Moreover, it is difficult to allocate funding for the removal and resettlement of area families, he said.

The case of Tan Son Nhat Airport has raised the issue about planning at other airports, as well as the living standards for people living nearby.

Thanh from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said that the Minister of Transport asked the Aviation Corporation of Vietnam to make plans and arrange funding to build fences at all of the airports.

Fencing requirements will cost about 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD), he said.

He noted that Vietnam only has space for airports and their neighbourhood, implying a maximum height of buildings should be set, though no minimum distance has been set from the airport to residential areas to avoid impacts of sound pollution.

The ministry is to study and issue criteria for controlling noise at airports.-VNA