Extension of landfill threatens important volcanic remains

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 January, 2009, 12:00am

The Association for Geoconservation strongly objects to the excision of about 5 hectares of land from the existing area of Clear Water Bay Country Park for the extension of the South East New Territories landfill. The proposed new boundary of the country park is delineated on the draft map by the Country and Marine Parks Authority.

According to our latest geological knowledge, the knoll to the west of Tin Ha Au is the site of a remnant ancient volcanic vent. Our recent site visit revealed an outcrop zone of volcanic vent material associated with early violent volcanic eruptions in the Cretaceous age. Although volcanic rocks are widely distributed in Hong Kong, direct evidence of volcanic vents is very rare. In this case they are also important geological evidence of the margin of the large Sai Kung East caldera (a central depression formed by the collapse of the entire volcano).

The presence of volcanic vent outcrops near Tin Ha Au, therefore, has special scientific, educational and aesthetic significance. The value and integrity of the remnant volcanic vent will be severely undermined by any further extension of the landfill. This invaluable heritage has not been identified previously and has never been discussed in the environmental impact assessment report.

This has led to the wrong conclusion that intrusion into the country park is acceptable.

We urge the government:

Not to sacrifice country park areas around Tin Ha Au for the landfill extension;

Conduct immediately a geological heritage survey and an investigation of the impacts of the landfill; and

Designate areas where there is evidence of an important part of our geological heritage sites of special scientific interest and protect them from any further adverse impact by the landfill and any extensions.

The significance of geological heritage has long been neglected in development projects in Hong Kong. Our government should avoid repeating mistakes and include geoconservation in the assessment of any future developments.

Cindy Choi, Hong Kong convenor, Association for Geoconservation