New Territories development plan angers villagers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2012, 2:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Representatives of several villages in the northeastern part of the New Territories on Tuesday called on the government to scrap its controversial development plan for their region until it had heard their opinions. The group said they did not know anything of this plan until last month and criticised the government for being selective in its consultation.

The development involves 787 hectares in Kwu Tung North, Fanling North and Ping Che, which would be turned into public and private estates for more than 15,000 people as part of the government’s efforts to alleviate housing shortages. But critics say the development could kill the agricultural industry in Hong Kong, and some villagers are unhappy about the lack of consultation.

Speaking on a radio interview, representatives of Ping Che and Ta Kwu Ling villages said the plan should be halted, so they had a chance to have their say on the development.

Ping Che villager Tam Chi-kit said he had heard rumours about the development over the past two years, but the news was not confirmed until indigenous villagers held a dinner gathering to “celebrate the plan”.

“I was very surprised. I am a resident in the area as well, how come no one told me about that?” he said, adding that the proposal should be withdrawn and sent back to the drawing board.

Lee Bo-hang, a spokeswoman for a concern group involving Ping Che and Ta Kwu Ling residents, described the government’s development plan as “violent”, as people living the area were not informed.

The development proposal was first announced by former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his 2007-08 policy address. Details of the plan on the government website show the third stage of consultation started with a briefing to the Legislative Council on June 28.

Sheung Shui rural committee chairman Hau Chi-keung said the development was necessary because of the lack of land in the city. He said the rural committees had been talking to the government for three years. Village representatives and district councillors should have been given the consultation documents.

Hau said if Tam and Lee did not know of the plan, it was due to a communication problem between them, their village representatives and councillors.