The government yesterday submitted a draft zoning plan for construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal on South Soko Island, but town planners warned it would not get an easy ride. CLP Power and the world's biggest oil and gas company, ExxonMobil, hope to build a terminal on the island - part of an intended marine reserve to safeguard wildlife including the endangered Chinese white dolphin. The Planning Department wants to reserve a site for it even though the companies' joint venture, the Castle Peak Power Company, has not yet got approval for the project. The Town Planning Board will discuss the proposal tomorrow. A 37-hectare site has been zoned for the terminal, according to the draft outline zoning plan. The Planning Department says its plan intends to provide sufficient land for the terminal while protecting the rest of the island against unnecessary development. CLP has identified two possible sites for the terminal - South Soko Island and Black Point in Tuen Mun - but says its own environmental impact report favours the island site, a choice the government has endorsed. Green groups oppose the island site, fearing that construction and use of the terminal will disturb the Chinese white dolphins and have a negative impact on the marine park proposed for the Soko Islands. However, the project gained approval from the Advisory Council on the Environment last year after the Marine Department said having LNG tankers go to and from Black Point might have safety implications for a busy sea lane nearby. The island terminal would comprise gas storage tanks, regasification facilities and the outlet of a pipeline to transport the gas to power stations. A jetty would require reclaiming 2.4 hectares of the South China Sea. To protect woodland on the island, more than 84 hectares would be zoned as green belt. Furthermore, the project's effects on an archaeological site and a historic Tin Hau temple on the island should be gauged through a heritage impact assessment, the Planning Department said. Some board members privately expressed worries about the project, fearing it would threaten the dolphins. 'The location is a popular site for the dolphins,' one member said. 'The government would need to justify the need for such a terminal in Hong Kong.' Another member said the island was the second best option for the terminal and the board would need to consider whether the terminal would be compatible with a marine park. 'The builder may need to give a facelift to the terminal so it blends in.' While some on the board recognise the need to import natural gas, one member said there was no guarantee it would vote to site the terminal on the island. 'We have to verify [CLP's claim that the terminal needs building urgently] and that there will be adequate mechanisms to monitor the plan afterwards,' the member said. A spokeswoman for the Environment Bureau said the government was examining all relevant factors, including the feasibility of supplying gas to Hong Kong from other LNG projects in the region, the supply situation of the Yacheng gas field and the impact on customers' fuel bills. CLP Power has said that the Yacheng natural gas field off Hainan Island will be depleted early in the next decade.