Legal fight to save harbour must be extended to all waterways

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am

The Society for Protection of the Harbour supports the letters from Peter Y. Wong, president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers ('Reclamation for delta bridge can be reduced', June 29) and Luiz Souza ('Hong Kong's outstanding areas of natural beauty must be saved', June 30), calling for protection of our shorelines and natural beauty.

What remained of Victoria Harbour (roughly a half) was only saved in the nick of time by the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, enacted in 1997, which was fortified by the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal in 2004 and the judgment of the High Court last year.

Hong Kong people should take note that, under the Foreshore and Seabed (Reclamations) Ordinance, the government can reclaim any part of Hong Kong waters, or even authorise developers to do so, without approval by the Town Planning Board or any other public body and without having to justify the reclamation to the public.

Our society was formed only to protect Victoria Harbour, as the task to take on the protection of all Hong Kong waters would have been too difficult and ambitious 15 years ago.

Now that the Hong Kong community has woken up to the importance of the environment, it is the right time to consider a law to protect all of the waters of Hong Kong. We urge public-spirited citizens and environmental groups to take on the task of persuading the Legislative Council to pass a similar ordinance so that the shorelines of Hong Kong will only be reclaimed if there is sufficient public justification.

Government officials who consider themselves qualified to lead Hong Kong must exhibit the wisdom and foresight to do so.

They should recognise that the natural beauty of Hong Kong and its position as a major cosmopolitan area centred within an archipelago is unique in the world and every effort should be made to preserve it.

Winston K. S. Chu, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour