Conservationists have called on CLP Power to explain further why the environmentally sensitive Soko Islands are a better site for its planned liquefied natural gas terminal than land next to its power station at Black Point.
Conservation organisation WWF said Black Point was preferable to the Sokos, which it said are a key habitat of the endangered Chinese white dolphin. It challenged the electricity supplier's claim that building a terminal at Black Point, in Tuen Mun, would require more reclamation and would therefore take longer to complete than building on South Soko Island.
According to a 3,500-page environmental impact assessment report released by CLP, building at South Soko would require only 0.6 hectares of reclamation, while building at Black Point would mean reclaiming up to 16 hectares.
But WWF said the scope of reclamation at Black Point could be minimised if planned administration buildings were better integrated with the power station and an unnecessarily large construction storage area was reduced in size.
The group also rejected CLP's argument that there was a degree - though not an unacceptable degree - of risk in having ships transport gas through the Ma Wan Channel to Black Point. WWF said the risk could be reduced by using the nearby Tonggu channel, now being dredged by Shenzhen to the west of Black Point, to give access to the Shekou container port.
WWF Hong Kong chief executive Eric Bohm said Black Point was a viable option that could avoid ecological damage in waters around South Soko. He accused CLP of manipulating the site selection to maximise profit under the scheme of control, which allows it to make returns based on the value of its fixed-asset investments.
He said siting the terminal on South Soko Island would require construction of a long and costly undersea pipeline to Black Point.
CLP said it had considered the Tonggu Channel option, but it remained uncertain whether it would be deep enough for LNG carriers.
WWF yesterday launched a petition website for the public to express their views on the project. The site is at wwf.org.hk/nogoatsoko.