Reply To: Henderson Land loses permission to develop Nam Sang Wai


Developer still aiming to build build build at Nam Sang Wai. Excellent letter in yesterday's Sunday Morning Post:

Wetland is no place for apartments

On the evening of Saturday, November 3, along with hundreds of other Hong Kong residents, I enjoyed a magnificent sunset from Nam Sang Wai in the New Territories.

Surrounded by cyclists, bird-watchers, model plane enthusiasts, tourists, bush walkers, and joined by flocks of endangered migratory birds, we watched as the sun slowly disappeared behind the hills to the west.

Rudely intruding upon this magnificent scene was the offensive cynicism of the sign for development application A/YL-NSW/218. Application A/YL-NSW/218 proposes a "comprehensive development with wetland enhancement (including house, flat, wetland enhancement area, nature reserve, visitors' centre, social welfare facility, shop and services) as well as filling of land, excavation of land and pond filling".

Previous versions of this application – first lodged in 1994 – included an 18-hole golf course, also in the name of wetland enhancement.

How can our government credibly allow this charade to continue?

Nam Sang Wai is one of the last remaining freely accessible wetland areas in Hong Kong. Let's clearly and simply call this application what it is: property development.

You don't enhance a wetland with apartments and homes. You don't address the "degrading (of the area at present) due to lack of management" with shops and services. You don't ensure protection of the "baseline ecological value of the site (which) has been clearly identified", with a social welfare facility and a new bridge to Yuen Long town.

You protect this all too rare resources by, first, recognising the inherent – and I believe offensive – conflict in the current practice of public-private partnerships where the "public" is any asset of environmental significance and the "private" is a property developer, and, second, through our wealthy government taking sole responsibility for protecting our diminishing natural heritage. We should not be forced to entrust stewardship of our environment to the vigilance of individual citizens and action groups.

This is an instance where the government should exercise eminent domain now, and provide the protection that this site needs, as is, ironically, so persuasively set forth in the text of the development application itself.

Matthew McGrath, Yuen Long