New rules for setting country park boundaries
The government is set to abandon a long-held principle of taking possible future urban development into account when setting country park boundaries.
Under revised criteria drawn up for demarcating country parks, the authorities would also affirm that land cannot be excluded from a park just because it is private. If adopted, the new rules would be used in considering whether country park enclaves - pockets of private land enclosed by or next to a park - should be brought within the park boundaries.
The review was launched by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, after a row over development next to scenic Sai Kung beach drew attention to similar threats to 54 other pockets of private land enclosed by or adjacent to country parks.
None of the enclaves had any land-use zoning plans, so owners could build whatever they wanted within the limits of the land lease. But temporary zoning has since been introduced for five of them, including the Sai Kung Country Park site that sparked the controversy.
'Government land is to be preferred when a country park is designated,' the review document says. 'Notwithstanding this, private land should be included in a country park if the use of the site is compatible with country park setting.'
The Country and Marine Parks Board will discuss the review on Tuesday.
The government has yet to spell out how the updated criteria will be applied to the enclaves and how many are eligible for country park designation. But it has pledged to give priority to sites with immediate development threats and higher accessibility.