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New Phnom Penh Airport and Airport City, Kandal province, Cambodia

Kandal Stueng villagers, facing loss of farming livelihoods, are seeking resolution of a dispute over land acquisition for the planned New Phnom Penh Airport, one of the world's largest airports by land area with an associated 'Airport City'


In January 2018 the Cambodian government approved a plan for a new airport, one of the world’s largest airports by land area, in the Kandal Province [1]. The proposed site, covering 2,600 hectares, is predominantly low-lying agricultural land on the northwestern shore of Boueng Cheung Loung [2]. Announcement of the new airport and associated development sent land prices soaring upwards and within days land for sale signs had been hastily erected. Rice fields and lakeside properties in the area that had been valued at between US$20,000 - 50,000 per hectare before announcement of the new airport began selling for as much as US$100,000 or even US$200,000 per hectare. Villagers were shocked by sudden news of the airport project, along with publication of maps appearing to show the new airport and a massive multi-use development on land they have resided on and near for more than two decades [3]. Their land ownership is disputed by a local 'oknha' or tycoon, Seang Chanheng, who has long laid claim to it. Even provincial authorities have professed uncertainty regarding rights to the land [4].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:New Phnom Penh Airport and Airport City, Kandal province, Cambodia
State or province:Kandal
Location of conflict:Kandal Stueng
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

A map published in the Phnom Penh Post, shows approximately 700 hectares allocated for the new airport and approximately 1,900 hectares earmarked for development of an 'Airport City'. The latter was described by State Secretariat of Aviation (SSCA) spokesperson Sinn Chanserey Vutha as a mixed-use development including a commercial centre and residential housing. Preparing the lakeside area of the proposed site for airport construction would require land reclamation and it is thought that there is some overlap between the project area and Boueng Cheung Loung lake.[15]

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Project area:2,600
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,500,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: 2,000 families
Start of the conflict:19/02/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) from Cambodia - investor
Heng Development Company from Cambodia - claims ownership of land earmarked for the airport project
Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) from China - Contracted to design and build the airfield for New Phnom Penh Airport in November 2020[20]
Norman Foster & Partners from United Kingdom - Selected to design the master plan for New Phnom Penh International Airport in March 2020[19]
Relevant government actors:National government of Cambodia
Kandal Provincial Government
State Secretariat of Aviation (SSCA)
National government of China
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Development Bank (CDB) from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CCFC Cambodia (Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community Association):
Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR:
Open Development Cambodia (ODC):
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsHealth problems related to pollution emitted by aircraft and road vehicles
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Affected residents demand fair compensation for loss of their land and farming and fishing livelihoods
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As of August 2020 a number of land disputes remain unresolved
Sources & Materials

[1] New mega-airport and 'Airport City' in Cambodia triggers land disputes, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), 21 February 2018
[click to view]

[2] Government plans one of world’s biggest airports in Kandal, Phnom Penh Post, 15 January 2018
[click to view]

[3] Land prices soar on capital’s airport announcement, Phnom Penh Post, 26 January 2018
[click to view]

[4] Will huge new airport planned for Kandal see locals stripped of land?, Phnom Penh Post, 8 February 2018
[click to view]

[5] Hundreds protest in Kandal airport land dispute, Phnom Penh Post, 19 February 2018
[click to view]

[6] Villagers in dispute over land for new Kandal airport take fight to province hall, Phnom Penh Post, 19 February 2018
[click to view]

[7] Kandal airport land still in dispute, Khmer Times, 10 April 2018
[click to view]

[8] Villagers protest Kandal airport development, Phnom Penh Post, 25 April 2018
[click to view]

[9] Villagers in land dispute with airport developers meet with district authorities, Phnom Penh Post, 4 May 2018
[click to view]

[10] Kandal villagers demand intervention, Khmer Times, 6 June 2018
[click to view]

[11] Villagers Protest Sale of ‘Communal’ Land for New Airport, VOD News, 6 May 2019
[click to view]

[12] Construction of new Phnom Penh airport on schedule, Khmer Times, 06/12/2019
[click to view]

[13] Deal struck with residents affected by new international airport, Phnom Penh Post, 23/06/2020
[click to view]

[14] Farmers Displaced by Planned Phnom Penh Airport Seek Better Deal, VOD English, 26/08/2020
[click to view]

[15] Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport, Phnom Penh Post, 19 January 2018
[click to view]

[16] Phnom Penh’s new $1.5b airport gets the green light, Khmer Times, 15 January 2018
[click to view]

[17] Beijing, Phnom Penh Ink Billions of US Dollars’ Worth of Development Deals For Cambodia, Radio Free Asia, 11 January 2018
[click to view]

[18] China deals swiftly signed, Phnom Penh Post, 12 January 2018
[click to view]

[19] Foster & Partner to design US$1.5 billion new Phnom Penh International Airport, Construction & Property News, 18/03/2020
[click to view]

[20] China’s latest Phnom Penh airport deal casts doubt on Vinci’s role in Cambodian aviation, 23/11/2020
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update24/02/2021
Conflict ID:3641
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