Letter to HKSAR Chief Executive about continued destruction of Pui O Wetland

i Dec 30th No Comments by

It is amazing and disheartening to see the Pui O Wetland being destroyed while government officials appear to sit by and let it happen.

Yes basically before submissions to the Town Planning Board on Application number A/SLC/148 have all been made public and well before a decision by the TPB the land owner appears to be preparing their land for further “Agricultural” use!!!

So to express our dismay we have written a letter to the Chief Executive of the HKSAR which we hope will be taken seriously for a number of important reasons outlined in our letter.

 

Chief Executive
Government of the HKSAR
Tamar
Hong Kong

Sent by post and email (ceo@ceo.gov.hk)

30 December 2017

Continuing Destruction of the Pui O Wetland

Dear Chief Executive,

I write on behalf of Living Islands Movement and our membership across Hong Kong, to express our considerable concern and dismay about a fresh round of landfilling that is taking place on the pristine and precious wetland habitat of Pui O on Lantau Island.

Living Islands Movement (LIM) is a non-affiliated, local group dedicated to the sustainable environment of Hong Kong’s outlying islands – with a focus on Lantau http://www.livingislands.org.hk/about-us/

I know this matter will be of concern to you because of your comments in the policy address about conserving and protecting the Pui O wetlands for future generations of Hong Kongers.  These comments, mirrored by those in the Lantau Blueprint have been welcomed by local residents, NGOs and International Conservation groups as a sign that the Hong Kong Government is giving proper consideration to conservation and the Government commitments under international agreements such as the Convention on Biodiversity.

WWF-Hong Kong rate the Pui O wetlands as one of Hong Kong’s more significant areas of wetland, a habitat rich in biodiversity and home to Hong Kong’s only feral herd of water buffaloes.  The only Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted for this area, in 2001, concluded that the ecological value was high and that over the subsequent 20 years the area would grow into an important wetland if left alone.

Today, many visitors, especially from the urban areas of Hong Kong, enjoy this rural idyll, a chance to recharge the batteries away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  A very necessary green lung that the vast majority of Hong Kongers want to preserve.

Given you clearly agree with these sentiments it seems bizarre that your own Environmental Protection Department (EPD) would sign an ‘acknowledgement’ for further landfilling to take place in this beautiful place. This directly contradicts your stated policy intent.  It is even more troubling given that a Judicial Review which challenges the basis on which these ‘acknowledgements’ are given was heard in September 2016 with the judgement now imminent.

We conducted a site visit with officials from relevant departments yesterday, 29th December, and were informed that the landowner commenced landfilling before the EPD’s acknowledgement had been given.  Although the EPD are now intending to prosecute the landowner, they have told us that they are powerless to stop the landfilling continuing. This site is also subject to a Town Planning Board Application which submissions only closed on Wed 27 December (Application number A/SLC/148).

You won’t be surprised to hear that our members are incredulous that this could be the case.  Is the Government of Hong Kong powerless to stop one landowner who seeks to destroy a piece of pristine habitat in order to make a few dollars from renting out shipping containers which have already been placed on the land in question?  If so then the Government would appear to have lost the ability to govern.

We have assured our members that this cannot be the case and that our Chief Executive would not allow this to happen if made aware.  This letter is to ensure you are aware and that you can take the necessary steps to prevent this madness from continuing.

Like you, we are concerned about what we hand on to the children of Hong Kong.  Destruction of the Pui O wetland cannot be allowed to continue and we await your response with hope and anticipation.

Your Sincerely
Dr Merrin Pearse
Chairman of Living Islands Movement

Email: info@livingislands.org.hk

CC. (by email)
– Chief Secretary for Administration, HKSAR Government – cso@cso.gov.hk
– Secretary for the Environment – sen@enb.gov.hk
– Director of CEDD – shlam@cedd.gov.hk
– Director of AFCD – dafcoffice@afcd.gov.hk
– The Ombudsman – ombudsman@ombudsman.hk

 

LIM Objection to Pui O Wetland filling – TPB Application No A/SLC/148

i Dec 27th No Comments by

LIM made an objection to TPB Application number A/SLC/148, based on a number of concerns.

Read our submission in this PDF document.

Please take less than 5 minutes to make a written objection via the following link, deadline is the end of December 27th:
http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/plan_application/A_SLC_148.html

Objection to another application to destroy the Pui O wetland

i Dec 26th No Comments by

Dear Members and Friends,

Many of you will have seen or read that yet another section of the Pui O wetlands is now being filled with construction rubble.  This despite there being an outstanding Judicial Review which challenges the legal basis on which the Government are allowing this to happen.  The Government’s assurances in their ‘blueprint’ for Lantau that the Pui O wetlands will be conserved now seems very hollow.

In this instance the landowner has also applied for planning permission to the Town Planning Board (TPB) to fill the land for agricultural use.  We do not accept that this land is suitable for that purpose or that the Board should counternance such land use within a Coastal Protection Area.

Please take less than 5 minutes to make a written objection via the following link, deadline is the end of December 27th:
http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/plan_application/A_SLC_148.html

A two-sentence objection is fine. The main objection points are:
1.      We do not accept that the subject lot is suitable or viable for the purposes of farming as suggested in the application.
2.      This location is zoned as a Coastal Protection Area, within which haphazard developments and landfilling are prohibited.
3.      The landfilling will seriously damage and erode a valuable and delicate wetland ecosystem.
4.      The landfilling will seriously damage the habitat of Lantau’s unique feral water buffaloes.
5.      The landfilling will create an eyesore, forever despoiling a picturesque and visually beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty.
6.      It would directly contradict the stated policy of the Government, contained in the Lantau Blueprint, which states that the Pui O wetlands will be conserved.
7.      It would contradict the CE’s statement in the policy address that money will be made available for conserving the Pui O wetlands.

Please make your objection before the end of 27 December either online via
http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/plan_application/A_SLC_148.html
or by emailing tpbpd@pland.gov.hk quoting application number A/SLC/148

Regards
The LIM Committee

Tom Masterson

i Oct 2nd No Comments by

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Tom Masterson, one of of the founding fathers of the Living Islands Movement, who passed away in Hawaii last week.

Living then in DB, Tom made huge contribution to the early battles which LIM fought and won, particularly the proposed Hei Ling Chau superprison, and all of us on Lantau owe him a great debt.

With his passing, not only have we lost a great champion for Lantau, but we have lost a very nice man – a true gentleman and a good friend.

He is sorely missed, and the Committee of Living Islands Moment extend our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy to his family.

3rd Submission about Pui O Caravan Park application to TPB

i Sep 28th No Comments by

Copy of the 3rd submission made on 29 September 2017 by Living Islands Movement (LIM) to the Town Planning Board (TPB) with respect to the Caravan Park at Pui O – A/SLC/147.

Submission to TPB on Pui O Caravan Park 20170928 LIM

Submission to TPB with respect to application for Caravan Park at Pui O

i Jul 29th No Comments by

Copy of the submission made by Living Islands Movement (LIM) to the Town Planning Board (TPB) with respect to the Caravan Park at Pui O – A/SLC/147.

Submission to TPB on Pui O Caravan Park 20170728 LIM

Small House Applications in Luk Tei Tong Village

i Dec 8th No Comments by

The Committee of LIM has growing concerns about how village houses are being built without the supporting public infrastructure. To express this concern we have written the following letter based on 3 new Small House Applications in the Luk Tei Tong Village.

We hope that by publishing this letter more members of the community can be aware of the issues and hopefully the concerns will be addressed by the relevant Government Departments.

 


 

Ms CHU Ho Kwan
District Lands Officer, Islands
19/F, Harbour Road Building
38 Pier Road
Central, Hong Kong

26 Nov 2016

Your ref:

(80) in LD DLO/IS 13/SHA/2011
(66) in LD DLO/IS 88/SHA/2012
(84) in LD DLO/IS 26/SHA/2011

Dear Ms CHU Ho Kwan

We wish to make the following comments regarding the captioned small house applications in Luk Tei Tong Village. These are the comments of the Living Islands Movement (LIM) Committee, but also reflect opinions expressed by members and local residents of the village.

GENERAL OBJECTIONS

There are specific concerns on each case, but the overriding consideration relates to the pace of development of the village, which in our opinion is too fast given the absence of supporting public infrastructure and the lack of any overall development plan for the village:

Sewerage

Planning for a village sewage scheme encompassing Luk Tei Tong was instigated as long ago as 2008, and despite the gazetting of a layout plan in December 2014, we understand that there is still no definitive time-line to finalize and implement the project. We are now told that construction may not commence within this decade.

The sewerage scheme was considered necessary from a public health standpoint on a projected increase in population of Luk Tei Tong Village from 300 to approximately 1,000 persons. It is unacceptable to LIM that this essential health and environmental protection project is being held back while the pace of small house approvals is accelerating. We have seen at least 20 new permits issued in the last few years and are aware that may be a similar number in the pipeline.

Emergency and General Access

While the Northern part of the village is served by an EVA road coming round via Tai Tei Tong village, the rest of the village is poorly served for access. Even at the centre of the oldest part of the village most of the pathways have to cross privately-held land. In the southern section of the village, which is currently being most rapidly developed, there are no paved pathways whatsoever.

We consider it unacceptable that no provision for emergency or general access is being made for the southern section of the village ahead of or prior to the addition of the 15-20 new small houses now under construction or in process, some of which are too close together to permit access.

Public Amenities

Unlike other villages (such as Tai Tei Tong), Luk Tei Tong has virtually no public open space, no Refuse Collection Point (RCP), totally inadequate waste recycling facilities, few if any surface water drains, no public conveniences etc.

We consider it unacceptable to continue to issue new small house building licenses at the current pace without making provision for these most basic and essential public services in the village.

THE CURRENT APPLICATIONS

The applications on Lot Nos. 420 S.A. and 426 in DD3 MW are north-east facing at the front of the village, and encroach on sensitive wetland areas that are already stressed by pollution from grey water and sceptic tank overflow from the older properties nearby.

We believe these applications should not be approved without enhanced mitigation to protect the adjacent wetland areas from grey water and sewage pollution. We respectfully request comment from the Environmental Protection Department on these matters, including the reasons for the delay in implementing the village sewage project.

The application on Lot No. 308 RP in DD4 MW appears to close off entirely access to adjacent Lot Nos. 308 S.A. 308 S.B., and is far too close to the new small house recently completed on Lot No. 308 S.E. This application appears to be one in a series that may result in a tightly packed block of 8-10 houses which will have inadequate access and multiple sceptic tanks potentially polluting the adjacent wetland and village areas.

We respectfully request input from Planning and other relevant departments on these issues. We consider that this application should not be approved before the access and future layout of this section of the village have been clarified.

Yours Sincerely

The Living Islands Movement

Expansion of mountain bike trail networks in Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan, South Lantau

i Oct 19th No Comments by

The Public Works Subcommittee of the Finance Committee has approved just over $42 million dollars to expand the mountain bike trail (MBT) networks in Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan on South Lantau.

The project comprises construction of:

  1. a training ground of about 4.5 hectare near Lai Chi Yuen Tsuen with supporting facilities;
  2. MBTs from Mui Wo trailhead to the proposed training ground (about 2.4 km), from Chi Ma Wan MBT loop network to Shap Long Chung Hau (about 2.4 km), and joining the two ends of the existing Chi Ma Wan MBT (about 1.5 km) to form a circular network;
  3. a bikers’ gathering place of about 230 square metres at the entrance to the proposed MBT at Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road; and
  4. associated geotechnical, landscape and ancillary works.

Details of the project, as presented to the Public Works Subcommittee of the LegCo Finance Committee on 22 June 2016 including the layout plans of the proposed Project shown in: Enclosure 1 Sheet 1 and Sheet 2.
picture2

Enclosure 1 Sheet 1

picture3

Enclosure 1 Sheet 2

 

They plan to commence the construction works in the fourth quarter of 2016 for completion by the fourth quarter of 2017.

 

Joint Group Statement – Pui O Wetland Judicial Review on Tuesday from 10am

i Sep 26th 1 Comment by

Dear Media,

Press Release – 26 September 2016

Pui O Wetland Judicial Review on Tuesday from 10am
Joint Group Statement

On Tuesday 27 September at 10am, the High Court will hear what could be a ground-breaking Judicial Review probing the Government’s obligation to prevent the destruction of beautiful wetland habitat from the dumping of construction rubble by private landowners.

In this instance local people living close to the Pui O wetlands on Lantau Island have brought the action to try and prevent the destruction of precious wetland habitat, home to rare and semi-rare wetland plants, amphibians, butterflies, migratory birds and Hong Kong’s last feral herd of water buffalo.

Local people first noticed the construction of illegal vehicle access ramps, built from construction rubble, nearly 2 years ago. Next followed 20 tonne trucks that brought load after load of concrete, brick, tiles, containing amongst other things, corroded batteries, solvents and paints, and proceeded to dump them right in the middle of pristine wetland meadow, which hitherto, had been untouched for 40 years.

Both local people and visitors alike were incredulous and immediately called the Government hotline to report the dumping, fully expecting the relevant departments to react by removing the rubble and prosecuting those responsible.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. The Lands Department eventually removed the illegal vehicle access ramps, after continuing pressure from local concern groups but the Environmental Protection Department said that the dumping of rubble in the wetland meadows was legal. Even worse, the Director of Environmental Protection had been informed about it in advance and had given tacit permission through something called an ‘acknowledgement’ system, introduced as part of the amended Waste Disposal Ordinance in 2014. When pushed on this point the current Director of Environmental Protection said that he has absolutely no discretion to stop such dumping no matter how ecologically important the land is.

This appears to be yet another example of the Government giving precedence to the special interests of rural kingpins over the needs of all other Hong Kongers.

If the court upholds the Government’s position then it spells potential disaster for any piece of ecologically important land which is in private hands.

Green groups across the territory anxiously await the outcome of the case, heard before judge Thomas Au.

Signed by (in alphabetical order)

– Ark Eden
– Designing Hong Kong
– Friends of Hoi Ha
– Friends of the Earth (HK)
– Green Lantau Association
– Green Power
– Hong Kong Outdoors
– Lantau Buffalo Association
– Living Islands Movement
– Living Lamma
– Plastic Free Seas
– Protection of Animals Lantau South (P.A.L.S)
– Society of Hong Kong Nature Explorers
– Tai O Community Cattle Group
– The Conservancy Association
– The Green Earth
– The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society
– WWF-Hong Kong

—- Press Release Ends —–

Any media queries please contact Living Islands Representatives (info@livingislands.org.hk):
– Martin Lerigo (6392 9432)
– Merrin Pearse (9156 9573)
– Roy Ng (9558 9350) for Chinese enquires

Further information on the 4 points of law that the Pui O Wetlands JR will challenge the Government on can be found at http://www.livingislands.org.hk/2016/08/09/pui-o-wetlands-jr-will-challenge-the-government-on-four-points-of-law/

Living Islands Movement (www.livingislands.org.hk/) is a non-affiliated, local group dedicated to the sustainable environment of Hong Kong’s outlying islands – with a focus on Lantau. LIM is made up entirely of volunteers. All money raised through donations and membership fees goes directly into funding campaigns.

Information on the Signature Project for Silvermine Beach

i Aug 26th No Comments by
Silvermine Bay Signature Project

Artists impression of upgraded facilities

From: belinda_yy_chong@had.gov.hk

Subject: RE: Information on the Signature Project for Silvermine Beach
Date: 26 August 2016 at 7:07:12 PM HKT
To: info@livingislands.org.hk
Cc: isdcadm@isdc.had.gov.hk

Dear Dr Pearse,

We refer to your enquiry dated 1 August 2016 requesting information related to the Signature Project in Mui Wo .

Background
The Chief Executive announced in his 2013 Policy Address that a one-off provision of $100 million would be earmarked for each district to initiate project(s) under the Signature Project Scheme (SPS).  The project(s) should address local needs or highlight the characteristics of the district, and have a visible and lasting impact in the community.  The Islands District Council (IsDC) has decided to implement two projects under the SPS, i.e.

  1. “Improvement Works at Silvermine Bay Beach,Mui Wo, Lantau Island” (the SMB Project); and
  2. “Yung Shue Wan Library cum Heritage and Cultural Showroom, Lamma Island”.

SMB Project
Mui Wo used to be a major tourist destination on Lantau Island and a transportation hub for visitors to other parts of Lantau Island.  Since the development of Tung Chung, the Ngong Ping 360 cable car system and the new Tung Chung Road, the number of visitors going to Mui Wo has significantly declined.  The local community in Mui Wo is keen to rejuvenate Mui Wo as a leisure rural township.

In this regard, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is implementing the “Improvement Works at Mui Wo” project by phases in the town centre area of Mui Wo, particularly in the area from the ferry pier leading to the Silvermine Bay (SMB) Beach.  Phase 1 of the improvement works has already started in July 2014 with a target completion date in end-2016.

Among the various scenic spots in Mui Wo, the SMB Beach is the most well-known tourist attraction.  Since the SMB Beach has become a gazetted beach in the 1960s, small-scale improvement or repair works have been carried out for the beach facilities.  However, the overall design and the facilities are dated and aged.  More importantly, the existing facilities on the beach are inadequate to serve the large number of visitors during the swimming seasons and major annual events such as the Mui Wo Dragon Boat Race and the SMB Music Festival.

Riding on CEDD’s “Improvement Works at Mui Wo” project which will enhance the environment and attractiveness of Mui Wo town centre, IsDC has decided to implement the SMB Project as one of the SPS projects of Islands District, with a view to rejuvenating the SMB Beach and achieving synergy with CEDD’s project in boosting the number of visitors to Mui Wo.

After formal endorsement at the IsDC meeting in April 2013, a public forum was held in October 2013 to introduce the background and the scope of the SMB Project which received very positive feedback.  In addition, a public briefing was held in November 2014 to brief the local community on the proposed layout and architectural designs of the project.  Apart from indicating their support, attendees of the two public consultation activities urged for early implementation of the project.  IsDC endorsed the layout and architectural designs for the project in December 2014.

The proposed scope of works under the SMB Project includes –

  1. demolition of the existing beach service buildings;
  2. construction of new beach buildings and associated beach facilities with an approximate construction floor area (CFA) of 938 square metres (m2);
  3. construction of new barbeque pit area and sitting-out area; and
  4. construction of a viewing deck near the entrance to the beach.

A site plan, floor plans and artist’s impression of the SMB Project are attached as Annexes 1 to 3 respectively.

The SMB Project will adopt a modern design for the beach facilities and buildings as well as the viewing deck, fostering the relaxing atmosphere of holiday resorts.  After completion of the SMB Project, the facilities on the beach, such as changing rooms, toilet cubicles and BBQ pits, will be significantly enhanced.  The proposed viewing deck near the seashore at the entrance to the beach will provide an excellent place for visitors to enjoy the scenery of the SMB and to watch the annual major event – Mui Wo Dragon Boat Race.

The proposed works are expected to commence in late 2016 for completion in 2018.

Here is a link to the Site Plan, Floor plans and artisit’s impression of the SMB Project