CRIII works remain lawful and valid

In response to the open letter issued by the Society for Protection of the Harbour, a Government spokesman said today (January 17):

"We understand that the Society for Protection of the Harbour Limited (SPH) issued a letter to members of the Chief Executive-in-Council yesterday (January 16) making an appeal to the Government to stop the Central Reclamation III (CRIII) works, in light of the Court of Final Appeal (CFA)'s Judgment on the draft Wan Chai North Outline Zoning Plan on January 9, 2004.

We note that a review of CRIII in November 2003 illustrates that the reclamation can meet the three tests laid down by the High Court in July 2003. In light of the single "overriding public need" test promulgated by the CFA recently, we are conducting a further review and remain confident that the CRIII will meet the CFA test.

The Chief Executive-in-Council approved the Central District (Extension) OZP back in February 2000. Funding approvals were subsequently granted by the Legislative Council on June 21, 2002 for the CRIII works to proceed. Pursuant to these approvals, the CRIII works commenced on February 28, 2003. Substantial public funds have already been committed, and third party rights created, in respect of the CRIII project. Any delays in delivery of the road infrastructure under the CRIII project would also have serious adverse consequences on the traffic conditions in Central.

The SPH has been granted leave for judicial review in respect of CRIII and the relevant High Court hearing is scheduled for February 9-12, 2004.

Pending the outcome of the judicial review in respect of CRIII works, we have in respect of the rule of law announced that we would continue to suspend the marine piling and reclamation works originally programmed to proceed under the CRIII contract.

The CRIII works and the relevant Central District (Extension) OZP remain lawful and valid until and unless set aside by court. We are committed to the rule of law and will act in accordance with the law."

Ends/Saturday, January 17, 2004