Please sign this petition to demand amendment of the law so that the Planning Department is given enforcement authority to ensure protection of the country park conservation areas, the coastal protection areas and the green belt areas as designated by the Approved South Lantau Outline Zoning Plan.
Prepared by：Ho Pui Han
Association for Tai O Environment and Development
The Public Consultation Report on Concept Plan for Lantau, published by the Government in 2005, showed a general consensus that, as a balancing act, South Lantau should be zoned for conservation and recreation with large-scale development reserved for North Lantau. According to the South Lantau Outline Zoning Plan gazetted in 2010, South Lantau was largely zoned for country parks, green belts, coastal protection areas and village developments. Regretfully, what we have witnessed in recent years is shamelessly illegal dumping by developers, filling up and destroying much of the highly valued wetlands in these so-called ‘protected’ areas! And these illegal ‘landfills’ are expanding rapidly!
What the Draft South Lantau Coast Outline Zoning Plan approved:
Related news report:
Since 2007, abandoned agricultural fields, fish ponds and river wetlands in Ham Tin - a village along the coast of Pui O, Lantau Island - have been treated as a dumping ground for construction waste. These unofficial and strictly illegal landfills are constantly expanding. Environmental groups including the WWF, Kadoorie Farm, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Conservancy Association, Designing Hong Kong, and Association for Tai O Environment and Development have written to the relevant government departments expressing grave concern over these on-going dumping activities which are clogging up the wetlands, with consequent risk of flooding and contamination of nearby rivers. Time and again, the responsible government departments excuse themselves from enforcement action, claiming “the activities concerned have been done with the landowners’ permission", and hence there is no basis for follow-up action. The Planning Department expressly stated that it has no authority to enforce the law against these illegal activities. Consequently, a river supporting the freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamp alongside the Pui O estuary is about to disappear completely.
The right hand side of the photo above was originally a freshwater mangrove alongside a stream – an important habitat for wetland vegetation and waterfowls. Despite its zoning as a Coastal Protection Area for conservation due to its high ecological value, the river has disappeared and the wetland is almost entirely filled in for what appears to be proposed development of luxury housing.
Related news report
Designated a green belt area, this extensive area of freshwater wetland along the coast of Shap Long has long been a sanctuary for wetland organisms and birds but now is filled up with unauthorized dumping. Responding to complaints lodged by the same environmental groups, Lands Department described these as private activities on private land and therefore not illegal. The Planning Department admitted the area is within the "DPA Plan” boundary but said they have no authority to enforce the law. So the ‘landfill’ continues - preparing the way for further property development!
A huge piece of freshwater wetland located in the Shap Long green belt has already been filled in with excavated soil. According to local villagers, the land was bought by a mainland-based corporate for large-scale development of luxury housing.
The existing wetland is inhabited with a rich variety of organisms and mangrove.
The Pui O buffalo wetland is designated as a Coastal Protection Area in the gazetted South Lantau Outline Zoning Plan. This is the one and only buffalo wetland that remains in the whole of Hong Kong - an invaluable habitat for a variety of birds, some of which are endangered species including greater painted snipes, Eurasian hoopoes and ruddy-breasted crakes. Despite being zoned as a CPA, the Planning Department claims it has no authority to prosecute unlawful development on private land; the Environmental Protection Department also claims it has no regulatory power over dumping of construction waste in these areas. Consequently, illegal dumping is now rife in Pui O.
The Pui O buffalo wetland is home to Hong Kong’s one and only remaining herd of buffalos. Visitors never fail to be entranced by these carefree wildlife creatures. Recently, in response to villager complaints, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department mishandled the relocation of a herd of feral buffalos. None of them survived the ordeal. The fate of this last remaining herd is now imperiled as the beauty of their CPA designated environment brings in the property developers. A gradual accretion of excavated soil dumps, built up covertly over the years, truckload by truckload, now poses a direct and serious threat to the survival of these buffalos.
(Photos: Hong Kong Bird Watching Society)
Mong Tong Wan - located inside the green belt at the fringe of the South Lantau Country Park, Chi Ma Wan Peninsula - is widely regarded as the most beautiful beach of Lantau Island. It is a place where many visitors can experience healing simply by returning to nature and the simple necessities of life.
In 2010, a large part of the jungle in Mong Tung Wan was illegally demolished. With active connivance of the Heung Yee Kuk and government departments, the developer justified the demolition in the name of solving the problem of a shortage of columbarium niches in Hong Kong. The “destroy first, develop later” tactic was contrived - by collusion between government and developer - to overcome conservation based objections to the developer’s application for change of land use with the Town Planning Board, permitting widespread columbarium construction to meet ever-expanding business opportunities. Such unjust and illegal acts should be (AND in this particular instance were) rejected. (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201107/04/P201107040255.htm)
Two years on, the developer returned unabashed with a ‘new application’ under a new project plan. Let’s not forget: Mong Tung Wan had just been zoned in 2010 as green belt, a vital buffer between the Chi Ma Wan Country Park and rural development. If for whatever reason this zoning could be redesignated after less than 2 years, prompted by illegal destruction of the designated conservation area, this sets a reprehensible precedent for Hong Kong’s rural development. (Of course, what should have happened instead was the immediate prosecution of these illegal activities!)
The beautiful Mong Tung Wan was intended by the developer to build a large-scale columbarium.
The indigenous Fan clan, outraged by the destruction of virgin jungle for the proposed columbarium and the way government turned a blind eye to what was happening, organized (with various environmental groups) a conservation walk in 2011.
Please visit this link for details: http://www.illegalnichesconcern.hk/?p=1140
Association for Tai O Environment and Development
Eco-Environment Conservation & Education Association
Green Lantau Association
Green Peng Chau Association
Association For Geoconservation,Hong Kong
Lantau Buffalo Association
Living Islands Movement
Mong Tung Wan Tsuen Villagers
Range Education Institute (Cheung Chau)
Alliance for the Concern over Columbarium Policy