Lung Mei beach

Activists could seek judicial review against fake beach

Campaigners against artificial shore say legal experts advise them that they have strong case for legal action against decision to issue permit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 4:45am

A coalition of at least 30 groups opposed to the government's plan to build an artificial beach in Tai Po is a step closer to launching a judicial review against the controversial project.

Peter Li Siu-man, the coalition's spokesman, said it had made progress in its bid to seek a judicial review of the director of environmental protection's decision to issue a permit for the construction of a man-made beach in Lung Mei, along the Tolo Harbour.

Legal experts consulted by the coalition had advised that the grounds for a review were strong, Li said.

He added: "If the government does not withdraw the proposal and once our adviser says the legal grounds are sufficient for a judicial review, the chance for us to launch the review will basically be 100 per cent."

The Lung Mei project has been denounced by environmentalists as it would harm the survival of some 200 marine creatures living there. But the government has said that it has no plans to make any changes to the proposal.

Li said the coalition was considering using section 14 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance to seek a judicial review.

Under this section, the director of environmental protection can suspend, vary or cancel an environmental permit if the director thinks that misleading, wrong, incomplete or false information has been given by the applicant to obtain the permit.

But the director will need the consent of the secretary for the environment to do so

The coalition believes that the permit's applicant, the Civil Engineering and Development Department, provided misleading information that underestimated the rich marine ecosystem at Lung Mei in order to obtain the permit in 2010.

"We have already presented all the information to our legal adviser. And there is a high chance we will seek a judicial review," Li said, adding that the adviser still need some time to process all the information provided. The coalition has given the government until 14 December to respond to its call to withdraw the plan.

If the coalition eventually decides to seek a review, it will apply for legal aid. It will also need to raise money from the public.