CY Leung gave his last policy address as HK Chief Executive today. Once again, the thorny issue of developing part of country parks came up; albeit along with fine sounding guff about conservation:
116. To underpin the sustainable development and conservation of Lantau, the Government will implement rural conservation pilot projects in areas such as Tai O, Shui Hau and Pui O. Different government and community resources will be deployed to take forward various rural conservation initiatives, including nature conservation and education, revitalisation of old village buildings, as well as promotion of ecological and cultural tourism.
117. Apart from making strenuous efforts to conserve the rural areas and countryside, the current-term Government also adopts a multi-pronged approach to release land resources, which involves the NDAs and new town extension projects mentioned above as well as development of brownfield sites and reclamation, to address the pressing needs for housing and other development. The reality, however, is that there are often diverging views in local communities or even in the whole society on land development projects. During the planning and development process, we face all sorts of challenges and resistance that may lead to delays, downscaling or even the scrapping of projects. I consider that regarding land use, we should incorporate more land with high ecological value into country parks, increase the total area of ecological conservation sites and country parks, and enhance their recreational and educational values. At the same time, we should also consider allocating a small proportion of land on the periphery of country parks with relatively low ecological and public enjoyment value for purposes other than real estate development, such as public housing and non-profit-making elderly homes. This issue matters to the well-being of our next generation and warrants serious deliberation of its pros and cons by the society.