The founder of the Society for Protection of the Harbour said on Thursday that the group would disband if a proposal by the government to change the law on reclamation goes ahead, as it would no longer have a role.
Speaking on RTHK's Backchat programme, Winston Chu said it was misleading for the administration to say that proposed changes announced this week were only intended to exempt small-scale or temporary reclamation from the law, adding that the society had never been opposed to such work.
"There is one section, buried in the details, which most people do not spot, which is to take away the right of the court to adjudicate on the legality of large-scale reclamation," Chu said.
"We used the ordinance to stop 600 hectares of harbour reclamation. That is what concerns us, because if this section passes the government can proceed with all these large-scale reclamations without the public having any right to stop it."
The society was instrumental in getting the Harbour Protection Ordinance passed, but Chu said he didn't see a future for it if the law changed.
"Our society is very concerned," he said. "We are so concerned that we are thinking of winding up the society if this goes through."
Under the law, reclamation is allowed only if there is considered to be an overriding public need.
Announcing the proposed changes on Tuesday, a Development Bureau spokeswoman said officials find it troublesome to spend years preparing the paperwork needed to justify projects.
She said exempting smaller and temporary reclamation works from the law would allow people to get closer to the water through new facilities such as boardwalks and landing steps.
The bureau said the financial secretary could be tasked with approving exemptions, adding that the law changes would also apply to private reclamation projects.
The proposal will be subject to a public engagement exercise starting next month.