A year-long legal battle to preserve Lung Mei Beach (Plover Cove, NE New Territories) has ended in defeat, meaning a controversial plan to turn the current beach into an artificial beach for recreational swimming will go ahead..
“Save Lung Mei Alliance” activists claimed that the government failed to take ecologically valuable and rare seahorse Hippocampus kuda into account in its assessment. They demanded that the government conduct another environmental impact assessment.
But the government argued that it had already assessed the impact of the project on marine life. In this study, the High Court judge said, the according to the first environmental impact assessment the number of Hippocampus kuda seahorses found at Lung Mei was not significant and that their presence did not mean that Lung Mei was the only habitat of the rare seahorses.In other words, the rare seahorse in only present in low numbers and just because this rare seahorse is found here does not mean it could not exist somewhere else we don’t know about, so we will go ahead with bulldozing the habitat and potentially wiping out the seahorses there – you never know we might find them somewhere else, too.
Two seahorses, one roundbelly cowfish and an eight-fingered dragonet were found after the release of the EPD permit, in its “professional” opinion the AFCD said that construction work will not pose a danger to the creatures, since the damage is not expected to be worse than expected by the EPD , the chief executive and the Executive Council will not revoke the permit. Note the contradiction in saying “the project does not pose a danger to the creatures” and “the damage will not be worse than expected”. How can damage of the habitat not pose a danger to the creatures living there? Hong Kong Government logic, it seems.
“At this stage we will study the judgment with our lawyers first,” Ho Loy of the Lung Mei Alliance said. She hopes the government will respect the group’s right of appeal and not immediately start construction work.
ON the 8th of October the Hong Kong Standard carried this article on a protest by green groups against the construction of an artificial beach at Lung Mei, Tai Po. The proposed HK$130 million “bathing beach” aims to satisfy demand for swimming facilities from nearby Tai Po.
The plans involves:
(a) a 200m long beach with a groin at each end of the beach;
(b) a beach building includes :
(i) public changing rooms and toilets;
(ii) shower rooms;
(iii) equipment/machinery stores for catamarans, motorized boats, beach
transporters, beach cleansing and sand levelling machines, etc;
(iv) dangerous goods stores; and
(v) ancillary facilities including management office, lookout/surveillance
post, first aid room, staff changing room/toilet, staff room/pantry, store
(c) retaining structures;
(d) refuse collection point;
(e) outdoor shower facilities;
(f) lookout towers;
(g) shark prevention net;
(h) a fee-paying public car park for about 100 private cars, 10 motorcycles
and 10 coaches;
(i) landscaped areas;
(j) drainage diversion of an existing box culvert and Lo Tsz River; and
(k) sewerage construction works.
Artificial beaches classify as one of the stupidest uses of money and time ever dreamt up:
- The government amusingly calls this project “construction of a bathing beach”. It might look like a beach from a far, but as soon as you enter the water (to bathe) you will know what was there before. Anyone who has ever been swimming at the Tai Pak beach in Discovery Bay (artificial) will know this. Once in the water you will sink ankle-deep in smelly, fine mud! Equally it will not be a fine beach at Lung Mei once you are in the water…
- The dumping of sand will obliterate the existing flora and fauna which as green groups have already pointed out includes rare butterflies.
- Where will the sand come from?500,000 m3 will be dredged up about 200 from the Conservation Area at Tai Mei Tuk causing silting of the water which also damages that local environment. In addition the LoTsz River will be diverted and not 500 m away from the proposed diversion lies Hong Kong’s 4th largest mangrove area which is also designated as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
- Beaches occur where the currents and waves are strong enough so that only large grained sediment will be deposited. Small grained mud and silt gets carried off to somewhere quieter leaving the bigger sand grains behind. Dumping sand to create an artificial beach is not going to change the fact that it is not a tropical beach environment. Many artificial beaches turn out to be disappointing or even unpleasant for beach goers: sand flies, mosquitos , smelly mud in the water with unpleasant rotten-egg smell etc. or razor sharp rocks or shingle – all consequences of trying to force a tropical beach look onto a different environment e.g. a mangrove area, mud flat, tidal beach etc.
- Who will pay for this nonsense? And why can this money not be spent on cleaning up Hong Kong’s toxic air?
Once again, Hong Kongers can only shake their heads at the incompetence of their government which spends HK$130 million to damage the environment beyond repair because its cheaper than building a swimming pool….
The Conservancy Association also has a good article on the issue here.
HKWildlife.net (Blog) has some more info in Chinese