Published: Tuesday 15 May 2001

So long farewell: a railway pr Hong Kong's pledge to protect its environment is about to face its ultimate test. The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation has appealed against a government's ecofriendly decision, which had stopped the corporation from laying rail-tracks through a wetland. The corporation is now spending a lot of money for gathering evidence to support the 'validity' of its plans to build a railway line through Long Valley, Hong Kong's largest freshwater wetland. The valley is home to almost 210 migratory and local bird species, some of which are endangered. In the wake of protests from environmentalists, the government had rejected the company's proposal.

The environmental impact assessment appeal board will deal with the corporation's petition. This is the first case to be submitted before the board since its inception in 1998. "We are afraid that the appeal board may not fully understand the ecological impacts. We are worried that they may make their decision on legal terms," fears Karen Woo, conservation officer of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Hong Kong. The hearing is expected to end in May 2001.

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