Three more country park sites get protective zoning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 October, 2010, 12:00am

Three more country park enclaves facing imminent development and with a history of environmental damage have been given protective zoning but 50 remain unprotected.

Environmentalists called for quicker action to protect the other areas. Landowners said they were being robbed of their development rights.

The Town Planning Board yesterday published development permission area plans for Hoi Ha and Pak Lap in Sai Kung and So Lo Pun near Plover Cove, imposing a zoning of unspecified use on each for the time being.

This will freeze most developments without approval from the board, although existing uses will be tolerated.

Detailed plans for each of the three sites will be prepared in the next three years.

The Planning Department did not explain why it picked the three out of 53 country park enclaves not covered by any zoning plans.

It also refused to say when it would impose similar plans on the remaining enclaves of private land surrounded by or on the fringes of country parks.

Officials have said they will not reveal their plans to prevent any pre-emptive developments. 'In response to the actual situation of each spot and in line with the nature conservation policy, the Planning Department will gradually and systematically draft statutory plans for rural areas currently not covered with any zonings,' a spokeswoman said.

There have been strong demands from conservationists for the enclaves to be protected since businessman Simon Lo Lin-shing bought up land at Sai Wan, a scenic enclave on Sai Kung's unspoiled Tai Long Wan coast, and began excavations for a private retreat.

The area has since had a protective zoning placed on it.

According to the published plans, about 27.7 hectares of land in So Lo Pun, a deserted village with no vehicular access, has been temporarily zoned for 'unspecified use', pending further studies.

The site, close to the Plover Cove Country Park, had been damaged by vegetation removal and excavation commissioned by a village elder.

The Hoi Ha site of about 8.7 hectares on the shores of a coral-rich marine park includes coastal lots bought up by investors for a luxury village development that has been promoted for sale on a Japanese website.

Dr Alan Leung Sze-lun, conservation manager for WWF Hong Kong, welcomed the new zoning plans but called for quicker action to protect other vulnerable areas. 'We don't want to see more areas trashed and damaged before the plans are finally drafted for them,' he said.

But So Lo Pun village elder Wong Fu was angry. 'It blatantly robs us of our properties,' he said, and he would not heed demands from the government.

Pak Lap village head Lau Sung said he also feared the plan would deprive the villagers of development rights. and said some farmland in Pak Lap had already been sold to a developer.

Hoi Ha village chief Yung Wong-fat did not return calls yesterday.