Poorly conceived, sloppy consultation about reclamation is a waste of time

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am


The Civil Engineering and Development Department is the proponent of the current so-called 'consultation' on reclamation proposals.

This 'consultation' is bizarre. In the first place, why is the department doing this anyway? Its officials are just contractors, and these proposals are policy and planning matters.

Interestingly, they have had no public meetings on Lantau. This is quite unacceptable, as many of the proposals affect the island. The Living Islands Movement therefore forced the department into a private meeting on Lantau along with the Green Lantau Association. It was obvious that little thought had gone into this consultation process.

Reclamation is proposed in areas that were scheduled by the Planning Department (in its South West New Territories Development Strategy Review) as inshore water protection/recreation areas. South Lantau and its waters were shown as being marked for conservation.

Amazingly, the Civil Engineering and Development Department had no knowledge of this and hastily countered by saying that it did not matter, as these reclamations were only 'suggestions', not 'proposals'.

So why were they even suggested? Why are civil engineering officials wasting their time and ours talking about areas that are effectively off-limits? Why do they not talk to their colleagues in planning? Whatever happened to 'joined-up government'?

Even more damning, the department apparently has a communications gap with itself. When we pointed out to officials that their colleagues were already discussing with us the Mui Wo facelift and the detailed planning of areas that would be buried by one of their 'suggested' reclamations, they were totally amazed and again tried to cover up their failure by again saying, 'Well, it is only a suggestion'.

So, again, why are they wasting our time?

In addition, the whole process is misleading. To quote but one example, Tsuen Wan is dismissed as unsuitable, being near a gazetted beach, yet Silvermine Bay, actually on a gazetted beach, is apparently acceptable. Why the selective use of information?

Clearly the whole process is improper, misconceived, not thought through, misleading and sloppily put together. It is also a waste of time and taxpayers' money. We must insist that it is withdrawn forthwith.

R. E. J. Bunker, The Living Islands Movement