Reply To: Rural areas threatened by minor works scheme

SImon D

Like most rural projects, I think some distinction is required.
3 distinctions actually.
1. Works on private land.
2. Works in country parks.
3. Concrete footpaths in country parks.

1. The first is the one that most often reduces me to tears. Literally.
Many is the time I have walked a favourite path and found only a construction site dump. The most recent is at my home of Tung Tze. A place I consider to be potentially HK’s best wetland outside of Mai Po (and environs). During my 5 yrs there I witnessed a 30/40% reduction in wetland, with damage reaching up to 50%. One 3 storey house (in progress) has effectively (through an access road, relocated twice) dammed a large area and created an unsightly blight. I often walk through with damp eyes, knowing that unless the government is prepared to buy ecologically valuable land, there is nothing we can do. Government works here come under the heading of ‘why bother’ if any preservation they do is undermined by the landowners themselves.

2. Works in country parks however is most likely to result in fury. There is a small group within AFCD and the Country Parks Authority who are world class in their skill and thinking. Far, far too small a group. Here is an area which we (as the public) must get a grip of. We cannot continue to allow the kinds of practices that are undertaken by locally organised contractors within our reserves. As a construction engineer myself I know the reasons but not the reasoning.
Strangely it is WSD that does a better job of preservation than the AFCD. Put that down to short-term ‘people first’ mentality.

3. The third distinction is more difficult. As it comes under public access, safety and use. I am not an elitist and consider certain projects valuable not only for public safety but also as an encouragement to people to appreciate nature. There must be a good policy and implementation however. I hear the dissent against concreting and appreciate it. But I have my reservations (sacrilage?). I see more damage done in unconcreted areas to the environment. The practice of leaving a mess behind after the works are completed is however unacceptable.