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  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:45pm
NewsHong Kong
DEVELOPMENT

Plover Cove country park expansion could lead to showdown

Kuk expected to fight plan that would fold five villages into Plover Cove, limiting building rights

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:44am

Officials have quietly drafted proposals to expand at least one country park that would limit the building rights of villagers.

The proposal for incorporating five enclaves into the Plover Cove Country Park in the northeastern New Territories would add 60 hectares to the 4,600- hectare park.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department plan comes just a few weeks after development minister Paul Chan Mo-po provoked a heated debate by suggesting houses might be built in the parks. The new proposal is likely to prove just as controversial.

AFCD officials say the five areas, either surrounded by or jutting into the park, are suitable for incorporation in full or in part. This would presuppose that development in the parks was not favoured. Any construction, including small houses for indigenous inhabitants, would require approval from the Country and Marine Parks Board.

The proposals were submitted to the board before the summer break but not disclosed because of their sensitivity.

Once the board endorses the final proposals, the government will put them forward for a public consultation. If the board maintains its decisions, there will be a legislative amendment on the boundaries of the park.

Board member Dr Billy Hau Chi-hang refused to confirm details but admitted the board was divided. He also believed "political considerations are at play".

Such a proposal will almost certainly raise the ire of the Heung Yee Kuk, the rural affairs body that represents the rights of villagers. "The last thing officials want is a direct confrontation with the Heung Yee Kuk, which will make sure it won't lose even a single enclave," Hau said.

A further 160 hectares in six enclaves are deemed unsuitable to be folded in the park. But they might be covered by the less stringent statutory protection of land-use zoning.

The future of the Plover Cove plots is part of a larger assessment of 54 enclaves in eight country parks to see if they should fall into the parks or be protected by land-use zoning. Without either protection, such land is regulated mainly by land leases, many drafted in the early 20th century.

The assessment was launched in 2010 after illegal excavation at Sai Wan on Sai Kung's scenic Tai Long Wan coast. The beach is now covered by interim land-use zoning and approval is pending from the chief executive to incorporate it into Sai Kung East Country Park. Similar approval awaits enclaves at Kam Shan, in Kam Shan Country Park, and Yuen Tun in Tai Lam Country Park.

Sai Wan villagers are preparing a legal challenge. In addition, 17 of the 54 enclaves are also covered by interim zoning.

The boldest of the Plover Cove proposals - expected to draw "exceptionally strong protests" - is one to turn 40 per cent of the 90-hectare Lai Chi Wo enclave, including Mui Tze Lam and Kap Tong villages, into country park.

According to the initial assessment, four other enclaves - at Sai Lau Kong, Fan Kei Tok, Hung Shek Mun Tsuen and Lai Tau Shek - are suitable for full incorporation. Each is less than 10 hectares, sparsely inhabited and with little private land. The officials expect "moderate to strong opposition" to these proposals from villagers or the kuk.

Excluded are enclaves at So Lo Pun, Sam A Tsuen, Siu Tan, Kuk Po, Fung Hang and Yung Shue Au, where 35 to 57 per cent of the land is privately owned and strong opposition would be expected to incorporation. Under the proposals, they would be covered by land-use zoning plans, including village development.

Some green groups have expressed concerns that this would open the floodgates for uncontrolled small-house developments. For instance, an area big enough for 135 houses in So Lo Pun has already been approved for that purpose.

Designing Hong Kong chief executive Paul Zimmerman criticised conservation officials for choosing to give in to development pressures. "They have given up control and left it to the regime of land zoning and the small-house policy that no one has control over," he said.

The board affirmed revised criteria in 2011 that say private land should not be automatically excluded from the parks. It also says unless there is extensive and active human settlement, village houses and fallow farmland are seen as an integral part of the country park landscape.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

HK-Explorer
People don't get it. Houses are not expensive because of the developers or greedy speculators. House prices in Hong Kong are sky hi only because of the Heung Yee Keuk. There is nothing that contributes as much to the waste of land in Hong Kong as their intimidation of the government to allow the small house policy (free houses OR massive profit reselling the land to so called indigenous people who don't even live in HK).
Think about it. Property developers get a fairly small piece of land and build 5 towers each with 60 stories. That houses about 2,400 families (7,200 people).
On the same land illegally taken by the Keuk it would be 60 houses (180 people).
.
If the government stood up triads and used the land for Hong Kong people then house prices would fall substantially.
One other item is the at the government uses tons of land to build roads, power lines, water pipes and sewage to get to these triad controlled lands. Just look at new territories and the waste or space just to get to small triad controlled villages. Probably for every house illegally taken there is equal space wasted on the government to provide them services.
Five 60 story buildings normally just has 2 entrances to drive in. Much better use of space. Bus routes are also much better leveraged and thus help reduce pollution. Providing bus routes to barely populated Keuk land creates tons of pollution.
mercedes2233
It appears that whatever the Govt does will face opposition from some quarters. The hill walkers object to the urbanization of public parks, the **** will oppose this Plover Cove expansion. We may as well be resigned to high cost of dwellings.
johnyuan
When Hong Kong is running out of land, the policy of the well water don’t mix with river water, a way to buy peace for urban city as I suspected so devised by the Colonial government is now coming to an end. So there we see ‘disturbances’ more frequently happened in the well as well as in the river lately.
…….
I will advise the government to be well prepared in giving us a comprehensive policy for any action to be taken. For the people, keep focus on the government that its ‘confrontation’ is not a pretext to force Hong Kong to accept even more of what it has been. That devious way by government in handling hot potato is well known and well practiced.
HK-Explorer
God forbid that the government gets into a confrontation with the Heung Yee Keuk.
God forbid that the Hong Kong police get into a confrontation with Triads.
.
That is all the Heung Yee Keuk are. They are just a traditional triad gangster organization that uses intimidation, force and other illegal activities to scare police and government into allowing them to steal from the people of Hong Kong.
These triad organizations are so ingrained in Hong Kong that some see them as legitimate.
Could you imagine if the US government started cow towing to the drug loads, people smugglers and mafia and saying they don't want to confront them?
Hong Kong needs to wake up and stop this lunacy.
johnyuan
Not in the US for government cow towing to crime mongers. Not at least in the New York City. Rudolph Giuliani as a mayor of that City of population of 8 millions gave no slack to unruly conduct– his zero tolerance approach arrest even street squeegee man. He built his reputation as a crime fighter who took on the Mafias in the streets and handcuffed Wall Street schemers in office. The mayor would be respectively remembered as a mayor that saved New York prospering with the protection in law and order.
impala
Well yeah but look, if we confront them, we won't have a harmonious society. And then CY will get it with the ruler in President Xi's office pantry.
whoaman
oh oh...Lau Wong Faat might pop a light bulb...
 
 
 
 
 

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