Officials developing Lok Ma Chau Loop recognise need to protect wetlands

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:03pm


I refer to the letter from Mike Kilburn of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society ('Development threatens sensitive area', July 24) regarding the Lok Ma Chau Loop.

The loop was formed by deposition of dredged mud extracted from the training works of the Shenzhen River in the mid-1990s. It was located in Shenzhen, but now falls within the Hong Kong government's administrative boundary. The Shenzhen and Hong Kong governments have agreed to study the opportunity for co-development of the loop for our mutual benefit.

Extensive public engagement exercises were undertaken in 2008, which revealed wide support for higher education use, hi-tech research and development, and cultural and creative industries. A preliminary plan, proposing an overall plot ratio of 1.37, was prepared for public consultation during the Stage 1 public engagement in late 2010/early 2011.

The plot ratio of 0.4 commonly adopted for private residential development in the Deep Bay area as quoted by Mr Kilburn is not a suitable direct comparison with the loop. The proposed development intensity for the loop signifies a gradual transition of the urban form from north to south and is the outcome of careful consideration of all pertinent factors, including topography, ecological conditions, surrounding context, land use optimisation, operational requirements and public aspirations.

All public views received during the first stage of consultation, including from the bird watching society expressing concern over proposed development intensity, have been carefully considered and responded to in a report. During the recently completed Stage 2 public engagement, we explained to the society at a consultation meeting with environmental concern groups our rationale of the proposed development intensity, while our consultants have been following up with the society on its comments.

We attach much significance to the sensitive nature of the loop's surrounding ecology and environment. The aims of environmental planning specified in the Hong Kong Planning and Standard Guidelines are not compromised. An 'ecological area' of about 13 hectares will enhance the ecological and wetland function of the area. The environmental impact of the loop development will be assessed and mitigated under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance process.

We always welcome dialogue and we stand ready to continuously engage various stakeholders in the planning and development process of the loop.

David Lam, for director of planning