Officials to throw out owner's bid to legalise dumping

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am

A landowner's application to legalise illegal dumping in an ecologically important pond in Luk Keng is likely to be thwarted today by the Town Planning Board because planning and conservation officials have refused to support it.

However, even if the board rejects the application, the site's future will remain uncertain since there is no zoning to guard it from future development.

The application, lodged by Good Mind Engineering, one of the 10 owners of the site, seeks to fill the site by up to three metres so flowers can be grown. The application does not say what the filling will be.

But the Planning Department has challenged the scale of filling. The department says the scale is excessive and Good Mind Engineering has given no justification for such an extensive filling operation. It says farmers normally use soil between 30 and 50 centimetres deep to grow crops.

'There is no justification provided by the applicant to demonstrate the need for such extensive land and pond filling,' the department said in its submission to the Town Planning Board.

The site at Kai Kung Shue Ha, a quiet village in the northeastern New Territories, is an abandoned pond next to Bride's Pool Road.

The proposed filling would cover 2,593 square metres, including 125 square metres of government land. Most of the site is zoned for agricultural use but has been left idle for years.

The application was submitted to the board in February. In September, the site was found filled with soil and construction waste.

Planning officials ordered the landowners to remove the waste by mid-January, but they only spread out the waste to lower the level. A Planning Department spokesman said it was still considering whether to prosecute the landowners for failure to comply with the order.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department also opposed the application because the site forms part of the ecologically important wetland habitat of the Luk Keng marsh, which supports a high diversity of dragonflies.

'Should the application be approved, it would set an undesirable precedent for unauthorised filling of land and ponds in the area,' the department said.

Alan Leung Sze-lun, senior conservation officer of WWF Hong Kong, urged the government to review the adequacy of the conservation measures for the marsh. He said rezoning the farmland into conservation areas could be an option.