GREEN groups yesterday accused the Government of trying to push through a controversial plan to build an aviation fuel depot on Sha Chau without proper approval. Several environmental concern groups received a letter yesterday from the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office, saying they had until tomorrow to comment on the proposed depot, which will supply the new airport, before it goes to the Executive Council. 'They have only given us one day to put together any complaints we have about the scheme,' World Wide Fund spokesman Jo Ruxton said. 'The letter was mailed on December 29 and sent by regular post, with no fax sent to us. 'This is like something out of the [film] The Pelican Brief, where the Government is just going ahead and doing what they want.' Originally, the fuel depot plan was scheduled to be discussed by the Advisory Council for the Environment this month, before it went to Exco. If the council had any objections it would notify the Government at that point and, in theory, construction would be delayed until the problems were smoothed out. But, for reasons no one on the council, including chairman Professor Wang Gungwu, could explain, the discussion date was moved to February. By getting the proposal to Exco before the council has had a chance to review it in full, the Government has been able to sidestep the only potential stumbling block. 'I was not aware of this change, but I can only assume that Exco will wait until we have examined the problem thoroughly,' Professor Wang said. 'It would be very unusual for Exco to give their approval without allowing us to look at the plan. I will look into the matter personally.' Provisional Airport Authority corporate affairs director, Clinton Leeks, said presenting the plan earlier than scheduled was merely a parallel process to the council's review. But he admitted that once Exco had the proposal before it, it could approve it at any time. The green groups believe the future of the rare Chinese pink dolphin is at risk if construction begins without the proper environmental controls. The shallow waters surrounding Sha Chau are one of the few remaining feeding grounds left to the dwindling dolphin population. 'The work on the environmental assessment has to be done and they should have the good grace to let us know before they go before Exco,' Friends of the Earth spokesman Lisa Hopkinson said. 'This type of work can't be done in a vacuum.' The dolphins are sensitive to any disturbances in their waters. The Civil Aviation Department is building a radar for the new airport on the island. According to local dolphin experts, this has already upset the jittery population. 'Their behaviour has been very erratic because of the work which has been going on at Sha Chau,' Chris Parsons of the Swire Marine Laboratory said. The Sha Chau site is not the only possible site for a fuel depot. China has repeatedly said the island of Guishan, which lies within its waters, could be used for a permanent depot. But Mr Leeks said: 'We must ensure a dependable supply of fuel for the new airport. 'We believe the site at Sha Chau is the best option open to us.'