Lung Mei beach

Hong Kong officials behind artificial beach plan slammed for forcing store owner to move out

Conservation group says government should wait for outcome of appeal, while owner denies occupying land illegally

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 1:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 1:12am

A conservation group opposed to the government’s plan to build a man-made bathing beach in Tai Po has slammed lands officials for forcing a store owner to move before a judicial appeal has been settled.

Tung Shun Store, a popular self-serve barbecue and snack haunt, has operated on the western fringe of the Lung Mei shorefront for years.

Ho Loy, of the Save Lung Mei Alliance, said it was inappropriate for the government to move so hastily to resume land along the 9km stretch of Plover Cove’s coast where officials want to covert a 200-metre stretch into an artificial beach.

“We’re angry. We have not given up this judicial challenge,” Ho said. “It’s strange how the government is so persistent about going ahead with this beach, despite reports even from its own departments showing that it is not suitable for a beach.”

Court ruling on Tai Po beach a welcome end to 16-year saga

Ho previously lodged a judicial review in 2013 in the hope of blocking the plan to reclaim the waters, which boast more than 200 marine species including the “vulnerable” spotted seahorse.

In March the High Court dismissed another challenge by Ho. Her legal team has lodged an appeal against that decision and a hearing has been scheduled for November 27.

Proprietor and landowner Henry Wong Hin-lee said: “More than a dozen Lands Department officials showed up [on October 7] and tied letters to my fence saying I had occupied government land and had one-month to get out.”

He faces a fines of up to HK$500,000 – and HK$50,000 a day thereafter – if he does not comply.

“If they really thought I was illegally occupying government land, why did I get my licence? Why was I given a water and electricity supply? Why have I been paying rates and property tax all these years? They are occupying my land, not the other way round.”

Lung Mei beach plan fought on ecological grounds

Wong, an indigenous villager, said he had the papers to prove the land was officially transferred to his ownership in 2006. He opened Tung Shun on the lot in 2008.

The government sent him a similar letter shortly after the project was drawn up offering compensation, but he ignored it. Wong said he would not give up the land whatever was offered. He was one of many locals who opposed the beach project on grounds that it would be disastrous to the environment.

The Lands Department did not respond to queries by press time.