Green groups in protest over bay development

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2012, 12:00am


A coalition of green groups called on the government yesterday to conserve coastal and river ecologies, rich in biodiversity, which are threatened by proposed reclamation and development in Tung Chung.

The conservationists are targeting a proposal that would involve reclaiming part of Tung Chung Bay, which is immediately south of Chek Lap Kok airport, and part of the Tung Chung River and riparian zone.

Development Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said this part of Lantau Island could be home to 100,000 more people after such an extension of the land.

The public engagement period, for the project's planning and engineering study, started last week.

'When it comes to environmental protection, habitat integrity is very important,' said Cheng Luk-ki of Green Power, one of the seven groups that co-signed an alternative development plan for the area.

The other groups include WWF and The Conservancy Association.

'The [Tung Chung] River and the Bay are inseparable. You can't remove half of it and conserve the other,' said Cheng. The green groups want the coast of the bay to be declared a protected area, and the land next to the river to be designated green belt and conservation area.

If part of the bay is reclaimed, the mangrove woods in the Tung Chung Bay estuary - and species that depend on them - may all be wiped out, Cheng said.

The groups' ecological surveys of the area indicate it is ecologically rich with a wealth of biodiversity, they said. It is home to about 50 species of fish, amphibians and reptiles including the rare Hong Kong Newt and Romer's Tree Frog.

The area is also a breeding ground for two species of horseshoe crab that are considered 'living fossils'.

The groups urged the government to abandon the planning and engineering study, saying it will pre-empt the upcoming land-use planning and environmental impact assessment process.

A spokeswoman for the Planning Department and the Civil Engineering and Development Department said the proposed town development plan aims to strike a balance between development and natural conservation. She added that the departments will conduct an environmental impact assessment.