THE Democratic Party has thrown its support behind proposals to curb further reclamation in Victoria Harbour. Opponents of the massive reclamation programme now plan to introduce a private member's bill in the Legislative Council to make the harbour a protected zone. This would make it almost impossible for any government department or private group to alter the shape of the waterfront. Democratic Party infrastructure spokesman Albert Chan Wai-yip said the party would support the idea because the growth of container ports in southern China had shifted the whole emphasis of development towards Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Yantian. 'The reclamation is based on government decisions made in 1989 which did not take into account the growth of ports in southern China. Six years have gone by since those decisions. 'We really do believe the Government must seriously reconsider its plans, especially since there is growth in east-west traffic through the harbour,' said Mr Chan. A harbour ordinance is part of a four-point plan of action by leading Town Planning Board members and government planners alarmed by the damage and scale of future reclamation. They hope plans can be implemented within three months. Leading campaigner, board member Winston Chu Ka-sun, said a public opinion poll would be conducted by the University of Hong Kong to judge the scale of feeling against further harbour reclamation. A public debate is planned, and Legco's powerful land and buildings advisory group will also discuss the issue. 'Mr Chu is heading in the right direction. The reclamation is creating problems, affecting one of the valuable natural resources of Hong Kong and narrowing the harbour,' said Mr Chan. Many people were unaware of the full extent of reclamation or the lack of public control over plans. 'About 660 hectares of reclamation have been completed or committed,' Mr Chu said. These include the West Kowloon reclamation and the initial three stages in Central. But another 636 hectares are on the drawing board and will swallow up Ocean Terminal and the Star Ferry in Kowloon and a 300 hectare swathe of the harbour in southeast Kowloon at Kai Tak. This will slash the width of the harbour from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui by half, from 1.6 kilometres to just 800 metres. 'Even I never knew as a board member the full extent of the reclamation until the board asked the Planning Department for a specific report,' Mr Chu said. 'The Wan Chai and southeast Kowloon reclamations should be reduced in size. The water area should be maintained,' said Mr Chan. 'There are only three stages that have to be gone through under the foreshore and seabed ordinance. 'First, the Planning Department decides where the reclamation should be, these plans are then gazetted, next they are approved by the Executive Council,' he said.