FEW formal notices of objection to the Government's plan for making the Sulphur Channel between Hong Kong Island and Green Island a public dump for construction waste are likely as the December 12 deadline approaches. For although the vocal campaign by the Society for the Protection of the Harbour to halt further reclamation struck a chord with the community, few people have the legal standing to challenge such a plan. Under the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamation) Ordinance, only those who have 'an interest, right or easement in or over the foreshore and sea-bed' concerned can lodge an objection to the Director of Lands within two months after the plan is gazetted. This means only those who operate, for example, a boating business or a shipyard along the shore can lodge an objection. Even property owners, who spent a fortune for the much-coveted sea view their flats or houses command, have no say against the project because typical Crown lease grants in Hong Kong exclude foreshore rights. If a shipyard's objection to the dumping were accepted, it would only mean the affected party would be compensated and would not entail the scrapping of the reclamation. So potent is the power wielded by the Government in deciding the future shape of the harbour that lawyer Winston Chu Ka-sun, who described himself as a frustrated member of the Town Planning Board, has spearheaded a campaign to halt any further reclamation. Mr Chu is disappointed that although he has sat on the board for seven years, he never knew the full extent of the Government's reclamation plan in which 661 hectares of the harbour off West Kowloon, Central and Wan Chai have been reclaimed in the past few years with a further 636 hectares to be reclaimed. 'Hong Kong is our home and the harbour is our natural heritage for which we have to answer to future generations,' he said. Mr Chu is calling on the community to speak out now because the damage caused by reclamation can never be undone. He has since enlisted the help of independent Legislative Councillor Christine Loh Kung-wai to introduce the Protection of the Harbour Bill. It seeks to protect Hong Kong's environment and to preserve the harbour as a special public asset. It states reclamation of the harbour must be approved by the Legislative Council but only if there are overwhelming reasons. The Town Planning Board may approve reclamation of the harbour only where such reclamation is needed to provide essential infrastructure. Unveiling the bill on Tuesday, Miss Loh denounced the way the reclamation of the harbour was being done as a 'typical example of colonial decision-making'. 'The Governor can alone decide how and by how much the harbour will be reclaimed. 'They ask the Town Planning Board how the reclaimed land should be used, but only after the reclamation is done,' she said. The Government's position is that the reclamation plan was drawn up years ago and the community fully consulted as a part of the Metroplan and Port and Airport Development Strategy. It recently commissioned two public relations firms to garner public support for the massive reclamation plan, which it claims will 'bring the city to the harbour and the harbour to the city'. Although Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands Bowen Leung Po-wing said the bill was unnecessary because Legco could already veto reclamation projects by refusing to approve funding, the signs are that it will have a smooth passage. The Democratic Party has already pledged support for the bill. Liberal Party member Jennifer Chow Kit-bing, a key member of the anti-reclamation campaign, said she saw no reason why her party would turn it down. A member of the Eastern District Board, Ms Chow will move a motion calling on the Government for more transparency in handling reclamation projects at a board meeting today. Although the campaigners do not want to make reclamation a political issue, China has publicly called for a halt to all reclamation projects and the Preliminary Working Committee extracted a promise from Mr Leung that no new projects would go ahead before the transfer of sovereignty. Chinese officials denounced the Sulphur Channel dumping plan as a surreptitious way of reclaiming the harbour. Defending the project, Mr Leung initially said it 'did not relate to reclamation'. He later admitted the proposed dumping was 'legally' a reclamation work, but stressed it served a different purpose from the large-scale Green Island reclamation project. But if Mr Leung were to look at the history of reclamation in Hong Kong, he would find that there was a close link between dumping and reclamation. The Port of Hong Kong: A survey of its development by the Dr T.N. Chiu, formerly of the University of Hong Kong's geography department, is a valuable source of reference. 'The early resumption of reclamation [after World War II] resulted from the need to provide places for disposal of rubble from building reconstruction,' he wrote. 'Similar dumps were required to accommodate the spoil obtained from dredging the harbour. 'The Government delineated areas of spoil disposal at North Point, Cheung Sha Wan, Hung Hom and Kennedy Town. 'Kwun Tong became the largest area for reclamation by dumping as it received spoil regularly from dredging in the harbour. 'At North Point there was a race between the extension of the seawall and the filling in of the area behind, in the years 1947-50.' Indeed, to Kingsley Hughes, a member of the Society for the Protection of the Harbour, the official response to public criticism of the Sulphur Channel dumping plan 'shows total contempt for the intelligence of the general public'. 'The current construction waste proposals only make sense if they are accepted as the first stage of a Green Island reclamation,' he said. 'A viable conspiracy theory would suggest that this is a covert attempt to secure the approval of the first stage of a much larger reclamation. 'It could also be argued that the Government's Planning Department is pursuing a policy of attrition, in which the existing situation is degraded to such an extent that public opposition to the subsequent larger reclamation is minimised. 'Specifically, Green Island and Little Green Island would be land-tied by the current proposals in an attempt to pre-empt an anti-landlock argument being used in future opposition to the larger reclamation. This nonsense needs to be stopped before it is too late.'