Activist fights uphill battle on walking trails

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2010, 12:00am

Vivian Leung Tai Yuet-kam was celebrating last week.

The chairwoman of the Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group, dedicated to stopping the government and a district council from installing railings along walking trails, was jubilant that her group's campaign against building a wall in Old Peak Road appeared to be bearing fruit.

Then she got a letter that indicated she had taken on a never-ending task.

Central and Western District Council wrote seeking the group's views on a proposal to build railings on another popular walking route in the area.

The council's minor works committee wants to go ahead with earlier plans to install three sections of railing along Hatton Road - already opposed by walkers in a survey by the group.

'As long as the budget for minor works is there, they will not stop coming up with ideas on building railings here and there,' Leung said, preparing for a fresh round of campaigning.

Ironically, the news came shortly after a survey of the council's transport committee found the Old Peak Road railings were opposed 16-8 by members, which one councillor said spelled the end of the project.

'I was thrilled to know our effort had killed the Old Peak Road project. The district councillors are listening,' said Leung, a walker turned activist.

'But suddenly the district council is telling me they want to go ahead with the Hatton Road project. I think I have taken up a never-ending task. But we are not going to give up.'

In late 2008, the group surveyed 141 walkers along Hatton Road and found that 120 opposed the railings. A similar number called for a halt to work on the railings.

Opponents said the railings would make the otherwise woody area 'too urbanised', complained that railings were 'ruining beautiful natural parks', or said they were a 'total waste of resources'.

Also in 2008, officials proposed building 317 metres of what walkers described as 'prison style' steel railings along Old Peak Road.

After strong opposition, the officials proposed a redesign to what they called a 'Victorian style', and when that was also rejected proposed building stone walls. This plan was also rejected even after the proposed length of the walls was drastically reduced.

Although the district councillors have yet to vote, councillor Stephen Chan Chit-kwai believes the survey of members' views was the death knell for the proposal.

'No voting has taken place. It is the first time the district council has surveyed the members' views on building stone walls on Old Peak Road over the past two years. The result is very clear,' he said.

'The proposal is to address safety concerns. But since the walkers feel very strongly on this, I have to respect their views. I believe the government will respect their views and drop the proposal.'

Don't tread on me

Officials have proposed building railings along Hatton Road

In a 2008 survey of 141 people who used the road for walking, the number that opposed putting up railings was: 120