Sai Kung village house project is defiling country park, say residents
Sai Kung residents say project along stream is destroying habitat of wild animals and does not blend into one of the city's most scenic areas
While debate continues over building housing on country park land, people at Sai Kung say the construction of village houses within the Sai Kung Country Park is already causing harm.
Twenty houses are being built on one side of a single-track road that runs along a stream filled with wildlife such as turtles, egrets and kingfishers in Tai Tan, a Hakka village that boasts one of the most beautiful views in Sai Kung Country Park.
According to the Lands Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Sai Kung site has been approved for small-house development. The department said the project was not officially in a country park because it was on private land zoned for "village-type development" within the country park.
"Government officials said it does not affect the country park," said one Tai Tan resident. "But of course it does.
"I haven't seen a porcupine, wild boar or snake this year, which I can only assume is down to the noise and loss of habitat. The houses are being built in the usual style, with no attempt to fit into such beautiful surroundings."
Pok Fu Lam district councillor Paul Zimmerman said that despite objections from green groups and conservation experts, the government had given in to rural lobby group the Heung Yee Kuk over large development zones for village houses inside country parks.
"The flood of new small houses will destroy the Sai Kung Country Park," he said. "There has been no environmental impact assessment of the cumulative impact of the zoning for small houses, nor has the Country and Marine Parks Board considered the combined impact of these developments."
Residents of Hoi Ha Wan Tsuen, a village in Hoi Ha Marine Park - a site of special scientific interest - are also trying to block a housing application there. A house is being built under the small-house policy at a previously uninhabited beachfront location.
Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po suggested two weeks ago that flats could be built on country park land to ease what he said was a land shortage. Last week, former chief secretary David Akers-Jones proposed developing part of Lantau South Country Park as a "parkland city".