CLP Power defends plan to build liquefied natural gas station on South Soko Island, saying it's key to meeting emission targets Environmentalists have lashed out at CLP Power's choice of South Soko Island for its liquefied natural gas terminal, saying approval should not be rushed. The terminal, if approved, will receive gas by ship to feed the company's power station in Black Point. The power company has said the LNG project is crucial to its capability to meet the 2010 emission targets, agreed between Hong Kong and Guangdong as part of moves to impove air quality. Yesterday, CLP commercial director Richard Lancaster said the Soko island site had been chosen because the project could be completed faster, there would be significantly less reclamation and the terminal could coexist with the marine park. However the company did not make public the contents of the environmental impact assessment report that covered the potential sites of Black Point and South Soko Island. The report has yet to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Department. Announcing the site selection of South Soko Island yesterday, CLP Power managing director Betty Yuen So Siu-mai also defended the decision to build the terminal, saying gas could not be sourced from existing or proposed gas terminals in Guangdong or new gas fields identified in the South China Sea. She said the company needed a reliable, adequate fuel supply to maintain its power supply. It had to deal directly with gas sellers to maintain a stable fuel price. Furthermore, it needed to find a clean fuel source to meet the emission reduction targets. She warned that the company could lose out on contracts with LNG sellers if it was not able to stick to its schedule, and that this could affect the reliability of its power supplies. The terminal will cost HK$8 billion, including a HK$1.5 billion construction cost of an undersea gas pipeline across the seabed west of Lantau and key Chinese white dolphin habitats to the Black Point power station. A financial plan for the project has been submitted to the Economic Development and Labour Bureau. The new terminal also raises the prospect of higher electricity bills; the added investment can be passed on to consumers under the regulatory mechanism which partly sets the level of profit an electric company can make by its fixed assets. The power company is expecting to have environmental permission and land grant approval by the end of this year or early next year so that gas can be received in 2011, which is when its Yacheng gas reserve is expected to be depleted. Green Lantau Association's Clive Noffke opposed any terminal site within the city and described the project as only an 'attempt to print money' by CLP Power. Mr Noffke said it was not too late for Hong Kong to rethink how its energy needs were met and explore possibility of co-operation with the mainland. '2010 is not the end of the world. This figure is meaningless. One or two years delay is nothing. There are plenty of options for CLP Power to cut emissions like stop selling electricity to the mainland and [taking part in] emissions trading,' he said. WWF-Hong Kong CEO Eric Bohm said 'serious damage to the Soko islands should not be contemplated as a trade-off' for cleaner energy production. The group said the Soko islands, a marine park awaiting the chief executive's designation only, was unique in that it was the only area in the city where both Chinese white dolphins and finless porpoises coexisted. Cheng Luk-ki, from Green Power said the project was potentially disastrous to the ecology of the area. 'It would set a bad precedent that other proposed marine parks are ready for development.' A spokesman for the Economic Department and Labour Bureau said they would examine the LNG plan 'carefully and critically' in terms of power demand and tariff rates and capital expenditure.