Wind farm project poses new threat to Hong Kong aquatic icon

February 03, 2016 10:48
The wind farm project in the Pearl River estuary will drive the endangered pink dolphin farther from their habitat, according to environmentalists. Photos: Xinhua, Baidu, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society

A planned wind farm in the Pearl River estuary is raising concern over its potential impact on the pink dolphin, Hong Kong's aquatic symbol nearly driven to extinction by overdevelopment.

Southern Offshore Wind Power Development Co. Ltd., a unit of state-owned China Southern Power Grid Co.Ltd., is pressing ahead with the project despite its own environmental studies that show the waters in question are home to the endangered animal and other vulnerable species, Apple Daily reports.

Environmentalists are worried that the wind farm, about 10 kilometers off a marine sanctuary in Lantau and Soko Islands, will drive the animals from their habitat once construction starts.

They are already under threat from the ongoing Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge project which has been blamed for their shrinking population.

Southern Offshore Wind Power plans to build 37 wind turbines on a 300-hectare site near the Pearl River's Lingtingyang estuary.

The company played down fears of habitat destruction and noise pollution, saying the dolphins are used to noise from passing vessels.

Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said the dolphins are sensitive to sound and piling noise could directly impair their hearing.

Non-stop operation of the turbines will cause a serious disturbance to their habitat.

Hung said the controversial cross-border bridge project has forced the dolphins into an area near the proposed wind farm and they have nowhere to go.

Environmental group Cross Border Environment Concern Association said the company never consulted the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department about the plan.

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