Press Release by Friends of Hoi Ha, 27 January 2014

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Friends of Hoi Ha published a press release on Jan 27. Click into the article for the full text.


 

FRIENDS OF HOI HA

21C Hoi Ha Village
Sai Kung Country Park
New Territories
HONG KONG

Tel: (+852) 2791 6449
Fax: (+852) 2791 6454
Email: newbs@netvigator.com

PRESS RELEASE, 27 JANUARY 2014

The Town Planning Board (TPB) has just released details of the representations attracted by the Draft Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) for Hoi Ha. 10,934 representations were received; more than 10,000 of these opposed the draft plan and wished to see the landscape and environment comprising the Hoi Ha enclave much better protected. In addition, more than 13,000 people signed petitions organised by Friends of Hoi Ha, Save Our Country Parks, WWF and Sea Shepherd which opposed the draft OZP for the same reasons.

That over 10,000 individuals and organisations should write to the TPB to express their dissatisfaction with the OZP for Hoi Ha shows that the TPB is totally out of touch with the wishes of the Hong Kong people. The planning process leading to the draft OZP was a total sham and based on a plan dreamt up behind closed doors before the gazetting of Hoi Ha as a Development Permission Area more than 3 years ago. No account has been taken of comments and research carried out by the top environmental NGOs, professionals and experts in Hong Kong, which prove the ecological and landscape importance of the areas now proposed for a massive housing development. Meanwhile, nearly all of the proposed V-Zone and Green Belt areas have been sold to development companies.
The planning process was flawed in 4 key respects:

  1. The “requirement” for 94 houses at Hoi Ha under the Small House Policy (SHP) was based on a fallacious number provided by the Village Representative. No audit was carried out of this figure. The actual need to provide housing for Indigenous Villagers who wish to “return” to live in Hoi Ha is tiny – probably, fewer than 5 houses. Hoi Ha will become a commercial development with applications being made in the name of individuals who have no intention of living in the village. The houses intended for the development will not help solve Hong Kong’s housing problems and will not provide housing for Indigenous Villagers, as envisaged by the SHP.
  2. No proper landscape or environmental surveys were carried out by Government on the areas proposed for development; assessments were based on the premise that 50 years ago the area was under agriculture. Since that time, when agriculture was abandoned, Nature has turned the area into a beautiful, diverse and ecologically important area of lowland forest and marshland – as described by WWF, Kadoorie Farm, FOHH and other authoritative organisations and individuals. AFCD has, incorrectly, described the area as “Degraded” in landscape terms and their species list of flora and fauna is woefully inadequate.
  3. The Government maps portraying Hoi Ha are incorrect and misleading. The beach boundary and High Tide Line are incorrectly plotted and the maps show agricultural land on areas which have been eroded, replaced by beach and covered by the sea for more than 30 years. Streams in the proposed development areas have not been marked and other important habitats such as marshland and mangrove belts have been omitted.
  4. There has been no attempt to assess the impact of building nearly 100 houses in an environmentally sensitive area. Hoi Ha has no sewage disposal system and no attempt has been made to assess the cumulative impact of nearly 100 individual septic tank systems discharging sewage effluent into the wet soils adjacent to Hoi Ha Wan. Similarly, no studies have been carried out on the massive increase in traffic along the Hoi Ha Road and throughout Sai Kung Country Park, and no thought given to parking requirements, if the village is more than tripled in size.

Under the present Draft Hoi Ha Outline Zoning Plan, in a few years’ time we will be facing a situation where the landscape and ecology of a beautiful valley will be destroyed, Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park will be polluted to such an extent that the corals and other marine life will be dead or dying and the beaches at Hoi Ha will be unfit for human recreation because of sewage pollution. Not one Government department has expressed any interest whatsoever in even assessing, let alone preventing, this potential environmental catastrophe.

We call upon the TPB to re-issue an Outline Zoning Plan which confines the V-Zone to the present village footprint, to establish a Coastal Protection Area (CPA) at least 30 metres wide from the actual beach line around the entire enclave coastline and to zone the rest of the Hoi Ha enclave as Conservation Area (CA). Within the CA and CPA areas, agricultural operations should be subject to permission from the TPB to prevent the trashing of the areas on the pretext of farming. Meanwhile, the Country and Marine Parks Authority should investigate the feasibility of incorporating the Hoi Ha enclave into Sai Kung West Country Park.

David NEWBERY
Secretary, FOHH