Beach site 'of low ecological value'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am

The site for a proposed artificial beach on the shore of Tolo Harbour has low ecological value, with none of the species found there being unique to the area, according to a new study commissioned by the environment watchdog.

But the report on the site at Lung Mei, near the Plover Cove Reservoir, has left critics of the project unconvinced, saying the survey was 'unscientific' and calling for the government to scrap the project immediately.

They said they suspected the true worth of the site was being concealed to give impetus to the project.

The survey was conducted to counter challenges from opponents who said earlier they had found up to 200 animal and plant species at the site, nearly seven times the 30 species disclosed in a disputed environmental impact assessment report.

The Advisory Council on the Environment conditionally endorsed the report in January and demanded the consultant carry out more studies to confirm the ecological status of Lung Mei.

The artificial beach, costing HK$130 million and to be reclaimed on rocky and sandy shore, will be 200 metres long and 30 metres wide and have up to 100 parking places.

The supplementary report submitted by the consultant said the overall ecological value was low, while species diversity was 'not regarded as high'. It said the species found by the opponents were typical and their presence did not indicate Lung Mei was a habitat for them.

Three fish species of conservation importance were identified in the extra survey, but the consultant believed the project would have minimal impact on them. 'When disturbed, these three mobile fish species are able to respond quickly by fleeing,' the report said.

The survey also said Lung Mei had the lowest number of marine fauna species compared to neighbouring sites in Yung Shue O and Lai Chi Chong. 'It causes suspicions as to whether the proponent is trying to conceal information and mislead the advisory committee,' said a spokesman for the Hong Kong Wildlife Forum, which has been opposing the beach project with other groups.