The claim is made at an appeal hearing over the Central-Wan Chai reclamation The role of 'protector' of Victoria Harbour lay in the hands of the Town Planning Board and not the courts, the Court of Final Appeal heard yesterday. The submission came as the board mounted a last-ditch effort to overturn an earlier court decision which ordered the board to reconsider its green-light approval of the Central-Wan Chai reclamation project. That landmark decision, by Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling in the Court of First Instance in July, found the board's approach to the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance was 'flawed as a matter of law'. The legal challenge was sparked by the Society for the Protection of the Harbour which claimed Victoria Harbour was in danger of being transformed into Victoria river if the level of reclamation continued unabated under the board's direction and reading of the ordinance. The society claimed the board had breached the ordinance when it found the reclamation project carried substantial public benefits that outweighed the need to protect the harbour. The case also spurred other legal challenges concerning the Central reclamation, a project involving the Central-Wan Chai bypass plan. Yesterday, counsel for the board, Robert Tang SC, told the full bench of the Court of Final Appeal that it had to spell out how the ordinance's anti-reclamation presumption could be overridden as the law was 'silent on the matter'. 'The critical issue in the appeal is what matters are relevant and material to the rebuttal of the presumption,' he said. 'The only questions for the court are whether the considerations which the Town Planning Board regarded as material and relevant were considerations to which the Town Planning Board was entitled to have regard and whether, looked at as a whole, the decision was rational.' He added that Madam Justice Chu had applied the wrong test in deciding whether the board had complied with the ordinance. 'At the end of the day, the question is who is to decide [on the approach to the presumption] and what is the role of the courts in the decision-making process,' he said. 'We submit that the role of the court is a very limited one in so far as necessary to give guidance to the interpretation of the [Protection of the Harbour Ordinance]. 'The protector of the harbour is the Town Planning Board.' Mr Tang also said the board had complied with its 'Vision for the Harbour' statement which it believed was within the ordinance's boundaries. The guiding principle of the statement was to 'bring the people to the harbour and the harbour to the people', he said. Mr Tang also said the project did not breach any international covenants which sought to protect sites of natural heritage. The appeal, before Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang, Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi, Mr Justice Robert Ribeiro and Sir Anthony Mason continues today.