WWF expresses serious concerns on CLP's LNG Terminal EIA procedure and the future of the Chinese White Dolphin
WWF considers that CLP is attempting to sabotage public debate and the decision-making process on its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) Terminal because the company has stated a firm preference for the Soko's site before the government has completed its examination of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and after only releasing highly selectively information to the public. CLP revealed its preference on site location to the public three weeks ago without fully considering other viable site options for its LNG Terminal. CLP has refused to release the draft EIA preventing anyone from properly considering the impacts of the two sites in the EIA or what other options were considered.
"This is a deliberate attempt by CLP to prejudice the decision-making process by stating its preference while controlling the information which has violated fundamental principles of the EIA public consultation process ," stated Mr Eric Bohm, CEO, WWF Hong Kong.
In the Study Brief issued by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), outlining the requirements of the EIA, CLP was required to compare the environmental merits and demerits of the Soko and Black Point option with other options.
"CLP should provide clear and objective comparisons on the Pros and Cons for all other possible LNG sources, including other alternative LNG supplies. Despite the efforts by EPD in recent years to encourage the project proponents to allow continuous public participation in the EIA process from initial planning through to final design, CLP has decided to release selective and piecemeal information," said Dr Alan Leung, Senior Conservation Officer, WWF Hong Kong. "By doing so they are deliberately biasing the public debate on this important infrastructure project in an environmentally sensitive area which could have ramifications for decades to come." WWF has written to CLP several times to request that the whole draft EIA be released, as has been done for some recent government projects recently, but the response so far has been negative.
CLP's stated preference as of the 1 st September is to build a terminal on the South Soko Island, with its surrounding waters endorsed as a Marine Park in 2002. The areas have been identified as important fishery spawning and nursery grounds. The Sokos waters are also unique being the only location where the Chinese white dolphin and the Finless porpoise co-occur in local waters. The proposed gas pipeline associated with the Soko option will also cut through the prime habitat of the Chinese white dolphin near the Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park and another Marine Park proposed for Southwest Lantau. Unbelievably, the information released to the public by CLP to date comparing the Black Point and Soko sites makes no mention of the marine mammals found at the Sokos.
"WWF is extremely concerned by the Government's casual dis regard to the continuous and cumulative encroachment from large scale developments within the marine areas inhabited by the only two residential marine mammals in Hong Kong. Over the past 10 years, more than 10 projects with over 1,700 ha of the sea area have been reclaimed. Reclamation has not just caused a direct loss of these mammals' habitats, it also removes habitat for the fish on which the dolphins feed," continued Dr Leung.
Endless past, present and future works on dredging, dumping, facilities installation, and pollution not only pose threats to the dolphins and the porpoises, but the whole marine environment, and have contributed to our declining fishing industry. Although the dolphin and the porpoise population is holding up at the moment, we worry that these magnificent animals will not be able to withstand unlimited and on-going developments, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the Container Terminal 10 near Tai O."WWF is calling on the Hong Kong public to support the only two warm-blooded resident marine animals by demanding the Government cease this casual disregard for the areas in which they live. While WWF does support the move towards greener fuels like natural gas for power generation, we cannot accept the trade off to the Soko Islands and the dolphins and porpoise while other options are available" stated Mr Bohm.