Month's reprieve for campaign to save Lung Mei beach
Government grants environmentalists a last-minute extension to deadline to prove Lung Mei beach should be saved from bulldozers
Environment officials have extended the deadline for campaigners against a man-made beach project in Tai Po to submit evidence to back up their claims that precious marine life would be put at risk.
The protesters are fighting to stop Lung Mei beach from being bulldozed and a 200-metre-long artificial seaside with room for 4,000 swimmers put in its place.
They had asked for an extension to the cut-off date for more time to demonstrate that the project's environmental impact assessment was misleading and therefore planning permission should be revoked.
The Environmental Protection Department had given them until the end of January but has now agreed to extend the deadline to March 4.
And following a mass rally by protesters outside government headquarters in November, it is believed the department is seeking external independent legal opinion on the case, as it could have far-reaching implications for other developments.
There has been debate among green activists that delaying tactics could be the best approach to kill the project, by stretching out administrative processes or launching a legal challenge.
If the HK$200 million project is held off long enough, rising construction costs could see contractors withdraw bids if the project no longer proves financially viable, or officials would have to get lawmakers to approve extra funding.
The Civil Engineering and Development Department has already put the tender process on hold, saying they will now announce the winner in April instead of last month and citing concerns of a possible lawsuit over the project.
Carol Kwok Wai-ling, a core member of the hkwildlife.net forum, said campaigners had no intention of stalling the process by asking for more time to file submissions. "We badly need time to dig out the data which goes back five years and, after all, most of us are amateurs and volunteers."
Kwok said they had to provide details like the specific dates and locations of marine species found, dating back to 2008.
About 200 marine species have been recorded at the Lung Mei site by volunteers but there was no record of these in the assessment report.
An Environmental Protection Department spokesman yesterday confirmed the new deadline and said it was seeking advice from the Justice Department.