Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Go at Soko

Today's Standard reports that, "CLP Holdings, Hong Kong's largest power company, is urging the government to speed up the approval process for its proposed HK$8 billion liquefied natural gas terminal on Soko Island".

Apart from the fact there is no such place as Soko Island (the Soko Islands is the name of the group of islands; the proposed terminal would be on Tai A Chau, the largest of the group, also referred to as South Soko Island), one hopes that the process will be one of disapproval. Not because it's a bad idea to switch from coal to gas for power generation; in fact, this will make a significant contribution to cleaning up Hong Kong's filthy air. Not because CLP's majority partner in the project is Exxon Mobil, whose most famous contribution to the environment was the Exxon Valdez disaster. And not because the government's present misconceived "Scheme of Control" for power prices enables CLP and Hong Kong Electric to benefit from capital expenditure whether it's really needed or not.

No, the main objection to this plan is simply that it's in the wrong place. The Soko Islands sit right in the breeding and fishing grounds of the threatened Chinese White Dolphin, already diminished by the construction of Chek Lap Kok Airport. So important is this habitat that the government has already designated it in 2002 as the site of a proposed marine park, now awaiting final approval. Ashore, the islands are also rich in wildlife, including nesting Sea Eagles, and offer ideal potential for low-impact eco-tourism.

Why put the dolphins, and the other marine life in the area (including the finless porpoise), at risk in order to build a terminal that will require a lengthy 38km undersea pipeline to the power station it serves, when it would make much more sense to construct it closer to Black Point where the gas will be used?

Making It Better:
Joint statement by six local green groups opposing the scheme
- Detailed critique of the scheme by the Green Lantau Association
- World Wide Fund for Nature - online petition against the scheme
- Discussion of the scheme at the Wildest Hong Kong Forum
- What You Can Do - Hong Kong Dolphinwatch

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