Open Letter: Green groups request more resources and funding for protection of high value sites at the 2nd Anniversary of Tai Long Sai Wan
Dear CY [Leung]:
On 8 June 2010, staff of Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden reported unauthorized excavation and construction work at Tai Long Sai Wan. On 16 July 2010, the South China Morning Post reported the ongoing destruction at Tai Long Sai Wan culminating into a strong public outcry that weekend, including over 80,000 people linking up through a dedicated facebook.
In response, Government published a list of 77 enclaves of private land surrounded by Country Parks and announced that prompt action would be taken to include these enclaves into country parks, or to determine their proper uses through statutory planning. In August 2010, the first Development Permission Area plan was gazetted as a three-year interim protection measure for Tai Long Sai Wan.
In 2011, at the first anniversary of Tai Long Sai Wan, only 7 other DPA plans had been prepared for the 54 enclaves not already covered by statutory plans. Now at the second anniversary more than 50% of the enclaves (34) are still without protection.
Moreover, the Government has yet to decide which enclaves will be designated as country parks when their interim protection expires. Since May 2011, the Country and Marine Parks Board has discussed the designation of Tai Long Sai Wan. Time is running out for amending the Country Parks Ordinance by the Legislative Council in time for the expiry of this Development Permission Area plan in August 2013.
Green groups are extremely concerned with the lack of protection of the enclaves from development. The Government has failed to heed our call to ensure that all enclaves would at least be protected with interim Development Permission Area plans by the second anniversary of Tai Long Sai Wan. In the meantime, the Lands Department continues to accept and process applications for land grants for New Territories Exempted Houses in the enclaves. The longer the delay, the more difficult it becomes to agree on statutory zoning plans which balance conservation and the interest of land owners who are keen to develop their land.
Therefore, at the second anniversary of Tai Long Sai Wan we call on Government to:
1. Confirm the schedule for the designation of TLSW as a Country Park
Will the Administration complete the process before the expiry of the interim protection measure in September 2013? When will the draft proposal be submitted to the Chief Executive in Council under Section 12 of the Country Park Ordinance?
2. Accelerate the process of designating enclaves of high ecological, geological or landscape value as country park To prevent further damage, ‘destroy first, develop later’ abuses and uncertainty for landowners, will the Administration to accelerate the process of incorporating enclaves into country parks to protect their ecological, geological and landscape value?
3. Expand list of high value sites to be protected beyond the enclaves
Separately and in addition to the 77 enclaves in Country Parks identified in August 2010, there are other sensitive areas of high ecological, geological or landscape value which face undue development pressure as they have not been covered by statutory Development Permission Area plans. Examples include a strip of land along Kau To Shan (including Wong Chuk Yeung Village, Fo Tan) and some outlying islands (e.g. Yeung Chau in Sai Kung). Will the Government prepare a list of all similar high value areas which require protection by preparing Development Permission Area plans prior to including them into country parks or determining their proper uses through statutory planning?
4. Implement a ‘Green’ Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy (RuPIS) for enclaves and other high value rural areas Infrastructure and amenities in rural areas are implemented with little funding, design and oversight. The low quality standard of the works by villagers and Rural Public Works programs blight the landscape and often damage the local ecology.
Enclaves are surrounded by Country Park or ecologically sensitive areas. The former Frontier Closed Areas have a uniquely rich ecology due to the lack of human access for an extended period. Village environs lack inadequate provisions for access and parking leading to unauthorized and haphazard uses of surrounding government land designated for conservation. The design and engineering standards of all works in these areas should at least be comparable to works inside Country Parks. Ideally they should be considered designated project under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance.
Will the government agree on a new mechanism to plan, design and implement infrastructure works - such as sewerage, roads, footpaths, trails, cycling tracks, parking areas, sit out areas and others - in rural areas of high ecological and/or landscape value including country park enclaves, the former frontier closed area and village environs?
In addition to views from rural committees and the Heung Yee Kuk, will the government consult and involve green and other concern groups in the planning and design of public works in sensitive areas?
The groups below would be pleased to meet with you and your team to further deliberate on our concerns, and practical solutions going forward.
Paul Zimmerman CEO Designing Hong Kong Limited firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (852) 3104 2765 Fax: (852) 2187 2305
for and on behalf of
Association for Geoconservation Hong Kong
Designing Hong Kong
Green Lantau Association
Green Power Friends of Sai Kung
Friends of Tai Long Wan
Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Bird Watching Society
Hong Kong Outdoors
Hong Kong Wildlife
The Conservancy Association
Transition South Lantau
WWF (Hong Kong)
C.C.: Chairman and Members of the Country and Marine Parks Board Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Director of Planning Director of Environmental Protection