Hong Kong court dismisses villagers' bid to block weather radar tower
A village in Tuen Mun failed in its legal attempt yesterday to challenge the Observatory's plan to build a weather radar tower on what it claims to be a site of good fung shui.
In the Court of First Instance, Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon dismissed an application to stop construction of the tower on Tai Lam Chung village's "dragon" fung shui hot spot.
The HK$154 million radar tower will replace one near Chek Lap Kok airport that will end operation by next year. The tower will house equipment to detect wind shear - a sudden change in wind speed and direction that can lift or smash a plane into the ground during landing.
Villagers say putting the tower on their fung shui site would bring bad luck. They say they tried to persuade the government to build elsewhere, including on a site 100 metres away. They rejected a government offer of an ex gratia payment to help them hold ceremonies to alleviate worries about fung shui.
One of the villagers, Ben Wu Yuk-wah, applied for permission to lodge a judicial review.
Wu invoked Article 40 of the Basic Law, which states that lawful traditional rights and interests of the indigenous inhabitants in the New Territories shall be protected.
Philip Dykes, SC, for Wu, said responses from the Observatory director had given villagers a legitimate expectation that the tower would be relocated.
But in dismissing the application, Lam said the Observatory made it clear in August 2010 that the proposed site was the only viable location.
He said it was naive for villagers to expect that any relocation was still open for discussion, given the urgent need to replace the existing tower by next year. He said the new tower was important to ensure the safe operation of the airport.
Outside court, village representative Wu Koon-tai, 66, said: "We are very unhappy about the court decision … a fung shui master told us that damage to the fung shui would affect the fortune and health of the young and elderly."
He said villagers would discuss whether to appeal.