Lung Mei beach
A controversial proposal to turn, by 2015, a stretch of coastline near Tai Po, in the New Territories, into a 200-metre-long artificial public beach. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying gave the plan the go-ahead in October 2012, but environmentalists and green groups argue the project is a disaster for the 200 marine and bird species inhabiting the area.
Lung Mei activist confident on judicial review for artificial beach plan
The first hearing for a judicial review request over the government’s decision to allow an artificial beach near Tai Po is to begin as early as Monday morning, says an activist group.
Ho Loy, a member of Save Lung Mei Alliance who is asking the court to stop beach construction, had applied for leave for judicial review at the High Court in June on grounds of a flawed environmental impact assessment by the government.
“We are very confident that the court will grant leave to us as all our indications have been based on pure science and fact,” said Ho, who is filing the request under her name. “I am sure the court will make a fair and impartial judgment.”
Ho, whose separate application for legal aid has yet to be approved, said she expected the legal campaign to be prolonged but “winnable” and expected initial legal fees to be upwards of about HK$200,000. She said she did not expect a result until after September.
“We had intended to push for a later court date, but lawyers from the opposition refused and we are now being forced to appear before court next week,” Ho said. “If the court case takes longer, we do expect legal fees to increase…possibly to about HK$1 million or more.”
The alliance on Thursday called on supporters to donate HK$300 each for the legal campaign. It said it hoped to gather at least 1,000 donations.
Ho is also asking the court to order new environmental assessments for the project, which began in June. The assessments would evaluate measures to protect nearly 200 marine species said to inhabit the site, including the rare Hippocampus kuda species of spotted seahorse.
A 200-metre artificial beach is to be built on the site for HK$200 million.
But a marine and ecological impact assessment by the Civil Engineering and Development Department in 2006 concluded that Lung Mei “contained mainly low-quality habitats”. The assessment was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Department.
“The environmental assessments were not serious, not to mention the huge amount of conflict of interest,” said Roy Tam Hoi-ping of Green Sense. “Impact assessments paid for by the government or by developers can never be conducted independently.”
Alliance member Paul Zimmerman said: “If we cannot raise enough money then Loy will have to make the decision whether she wants to continue or not… but this will be better judged after the first court hearings and when the legal aid application has been completed.”