PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 12:00am

When I read Charles Doyle's letter complaining about the railings in the country parks (South China Morning Post, January 6), it struck a chord with me and I agree entirely with his comments.

A chief engineer with the Water Supplies Department, Cheung Ping-ang, replied, through these columns, on January 10. He explained why the government is festooning the country park with iron railings along the water catchment area.

He said: 'An increasing number of people use the country park paths next to our catchwaters.

'We have been asked to implement safety measures on these paths to protect, in particular, the elderly and children.'

I have walked along these catchment areas regularly for many years. I have seen absolutely no evidence of any increase in traffic of any type let alone children and the elderly.

Nevertheless, the beautiful country parks are now increasingly looking like an urban area with ugly and totally unnecessary large and, no doubt, expensive metal railings. It has totally spoiled the ambience of this rural country area.

It is, in my opinion, just another example of the interventionist policies being unnecessarily pursued by government departments at the moment. It is similar to the outrageous damage being done to the slopes of Hong Kong in the name of 'safety'.

The reason why the slope work continues is because the budget which was set years ago has not recently been revised and with all government departments, as we know, they have to spend their budgets.

I suspect the same is true of the work in the country parks.

Who, I wonder, has been asking the department for more safety measures to protect the elderly and children?

Where are the statistics that support the suggestion that the walkways are now being increasingly frequented by children and the elderly?

My hope is that before it is too late, the environmentalists in Hong Kong will take heed of what is happening in the country parks and the ruination of the walks along the waterways.

The irony is that apart from the damage done to the country parks, and the waste of money, in many places the cumbersome railings make the walkways more difficult to traverse.

JONATHAN MIDGLEY, Jardine's Lookout