Caryn Yap – Sunday May 8 2005 – SCMP
A green group claims the government is downplaying its proposed concept plan for the island. There are fears projects will damage the environment and residents’ quality of life
A green group claims the government is playing down the extent of reclamation it is planning as part of its development of Lantau Island. Save Our Shorelines (SOS)says an additional reclamation site was revealed two weeks ago in a meeting with the Highways Department. It says the three-month consultation period on the Lantau Concept Plan, which finished at the end of February, made no mention of the extra site between Tai Ho and Tung Chung Bay, which would be used to build flats. The concept plan also does not include the reclamation site for the proposed Container Terminal 10.
The government’s conceptplan, issued by a task force led by Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, includes proposals for a logistics park, golf course, theme park and racecourse on the northern coast, and a spa resort on the south. Opponents fear the projects will damage the island’s ecology and lead to a deterioration in the quality of life for residents. SOS has put together a plan of how the northern shoreline of Lantau will be affected by what it says will now be four reclamation sites. It has also put forward its preferred route for a bridge linking Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai.
It unveiled details on the anniversary of the 35th Earth Day, in which 16 community action groups are combining to display their concern for Hong Kong’s environment.
John Bowden of SOS said: ‘Everything is from government documents; the port study, the Highways Department plan and the Lantau Development Task force plan. We’ve just joined them all.’
Christian Masset, of Clear the Air, said: ‘Diagrams similar to these have not been released by the government as they don’t want to show the impact … on Lantau.
‘According to the Lands Department, the new plot of land will be for real estate as the government wants to triple the population of Lantau.’ Legislator Kwok Ka-ki, a member of the Legislative Council’s environmental affairs panel, said the new reclamation site was a surprise. ‘The Lantau master plan is only at a preliminary stage and many of the construction projects have never been endorsed by Legco, consultation committees or even the Town Planning Board. I think the government should explain to the people at length about why they’ve decided to reclaim this additional land.
‘The additional reclamation site is unacceptable. It makes the consultation ridiculous. On the one hand, you’re consulting the public, but on the other hand, you’ve already planned reclamation.’ Some of the planned reclamation is to support the bridge, something that Mr Bowden says is vision-led, rather than demand-led. Although both bridge routes will cause environmental damage, SOS’ preferred route would be less damaging because the bridge would not actually touch Lantau. Reclamation for Container Terminal 10 would also be severely detrimental to the environment, Mr Bowden said. ‘CT10 will cause a lot of environmental damage. It will produce pollution from ships, affect fish, water currents and new roads linking Tai O will increase traffic. It will also split the dolphin habitat,’ he said. Janet Walker from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch added: ‘We only have about 150 to 200 pink dolphins in Hong Kong waters and 80 per cent of them live in North Lantau. Any land reclamation will lead to a loss of habitat, and feeding grounds.
‘Hong Kong is one of the busiest waterways in the world, and the CT10 will mean an increase in water traffic and pollution. Already, plenty of dolphins have got slashes to their dorsal fins and although some survive their injuries,others don’t.’ Choy So-yuk, chairwoman of Legco’s environmental affairs panel said: ‘Every aspect of Lantau is being threatened. We need to have a study based on sustainability, not based on just development.’