Eleven environmental groups have criticised the Task Force on Land Supply Chairman Stanley Wong for making “extremely inappropriate” comments on land reclamation, claiming that he has downplayed the environmental impact.

On Tuesday, Wong said that the task force was generally in agreement over reclamation, as it would have “no impact on the environment that cannot be overcome.” He also said that it was the most cost-effective way to provide large plots of land, adding that the force had identified locations that could provide 1,400 hectares of land.

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Stanley Wong. file Photo: Stand News via TVB screenshot.

The five proposed sites for reclamation are Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, Sunny Bay in Lantau Island, Siu Ho Wan, Ma Liu Shui and Tsing Yi Southwest.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the groups said there could be irreparable damage to the ecosystem and a sharp decrease in the number of Chinese white dolphins: “The task force’s comments clearly downplay the problem and we cannot agree [with them].”

They demanded a retraction and apology from Wong and asked that the task force make public the report and meeting records on the matter. They added that no official Environmental Impact Assessment had been conducted for most of the sites and there was no scientific basis at this stage to support any conclusions by members of the task force.

The groups questioned whether any careful study of the confirmed sites was carried out before drawing conclusions, adding that there were few members on the task force whose background was in environmental work. They also said that the responsibility of the task force was to encourage a comprehensive discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of land supply options and that Wong’s remarks were biased.

“The task force also overlooked the ongoing and completed projects of Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, the airport third runway and the reclamation for Tung Chung East, which have caused accumulative environmental destruction to the ocean,” they said.

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Chinese white dolphin and calf. Photo: Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society

The groups added that there may be a conflict of roles as Wong is also the chairman of the Environmental Protection Department’s Advisory Council on the Environment, which advises the government on environmental protection and conservation issues. As Environmental Impact Assessments are required by the law before reclamation projects, the groups said that this would prevent the advisory council from carrying out its monitoring duty.

The 11 green groups include: Green Sense, Greeners Action, Greenpeace, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Eco Association, Friends of the Earth, Society of Hong Kong Nature Explorers, University of Hong Kong’s Environmental Life Science Society, Living Islands Movement and The Green Earth.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.