Department rejects wetland recommendation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 November, 2009, 12:00am

The Justice Department has deemed 'inappropriate' a requirement that Li Ka-shing's flagship Cheung Kong (Holdings) take ultimate responsibility for a wetland development project undertaken by a subsidiary.

The Advisory Council on the Environment recommended the requirement be imposed to ensure that the Fung Lok Wai wetland in Yuen Long is properly managed after part of the site is developed for houses by Cheung Kong unit Mutual Luck Investment.

But the Environmental Protection Department expressed doubts about the requirement - proposed when the council endorsed the project's environmental impact assessment a year ago - and sought legal advice.

The Justice Department told the council yesterday it had found the requirement inappropriate.

Council chairman Professor Lam Kin-che said after a council meeting yesterday that the council was disappointed with the ruling. 'We wanted to ensure the project will have enough resources and money to preserve the wetland as wetland design and management is an important part of the development,' Lam said.

The project, combining wetland conservation and residential development in Fung Lok Wai, is expected to provide 2,860 flats. The residential development will only take up 5 per cent of the total development area. About 95 per cent - 76 hectares - of the site will be preserved as wetland nature reserve.

The developer also agreed to provide long-term management of the wetland.

Lam said that as an alternative safeguard, the council had urged the Environmental Protection Department to work with relevant departments to ensure the wetland management plan proposed by the developer was sustainable in the long run, adding that the council should be consulted on the management plan.

The developer was required to inform the public of its wetland design and management before obtaining a permit from the department, he said.