Comments on Planning Application/Review (Leung Uk Tsuen, Tai O, Lantau)

Application No. A/ DPA/I – T O F / 2Application No. A/ DPA/I – T O F / 2Lot No. 495 in D.D.313, Leung Uk Tsuen, Tai O, LantauIsland, New Ter ri tories(comments on the section 16 application)

To the Chairman and Members of the Town Planning Board
Dear Sirs/Madams,
1. The site has been designated a green belt in the Government’s Draft Development Permission Area Plan, gazetted in January 2011 with an aim to reducing the pressure of disruption and damage to the reed-filled wetland , the second largest in Hong Kong, in its surrounding. In this site, rough-skinned floating frogs, a rare species of frogs found only in the reed bed in Leung Uk, four-spot midgets, a species of dragonfly only found in Northern New Territories and here, as well as a habitat for multiple wading birds. Frequent human activities, such as cultivation, will affect the fauna and flora inhabit here which are very sensitive to such activities . (Annex I)
2. The site was originally a part of the reed-filled wetland. Since 2007, we have found dumping activities involving unauthorized dumping of government materials as well as unauthorized construction of structures violating Government rules. Owing to lax Government enforcement and monitoring, the dumping area has grown to encroach upon one-tenth of the reed bed, an indication that the potential developer took no heed of the law and by deliberate dumping tried to attain the goal of development. This is an example of “ruin first, develop next” application, a despicable deed the TPB has recently proposed to condemn. Therefore, we believe that in order to uphold the principles of the TPB and to deter potential followers from causing irreversible destruction to our valuable ecological environment, the application by the applicant doing such deed should not be considered. (Annex II)
3. The applicant applies for raising the ground level in the site for agricultural use to prevent seawater intrusion during high tide. Such reasoning is illogical. Given that there is a concrete motorway along the coast, and the formation of reed bed is due to an absence of seawater as the plant mainly lives on fresh water, if the ground level is raised by filling causing a reduction in fresh water, it will pose an ecological hazard to the reed bed. For these reasons, we consider that the site zoned as Green Belt serves an important purpose of being a buffer for the preservation of the ecology for the reed bed. (Annex III)
4. On 18th, 19th and 20th August, in the course of application to the TPB by the applicant, our member has witnessed a bulldozer being engaged in unauthorized land filling within the boundary of the green belt. We already lodged a complaint to relevant departments and media. We are of the view that if someone via the proper channel submits an application for change in land use on the one hand while on the other hand carries out landfilling with no restraint, that very application should not be considered to act as a deterrent of similar base acts disregardful of the law and destructive to the ecological environment. (Annex IV)
5. We also found that on the land already levelled, there was a letter from a law firm regarding a land ownership dispute. Roughly, the letter says that legal action will be taken against anyone encroaching on the land. We are of the view that whilst the land ownership is still in dispute, the TPB should not approve an application for change in the land use to prevent triggering greater dispute in the future. (Annex V)
For the reasons as cited above, we call on the TPB to reject this unreasonable application.

Ho Pui HanExecutive Member, Association for Tai O Environment and Develoment