Untrue that most Hoi Ha residents oppose a visitors’ centre

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 12:30pm

I refer to your report, “Hoi Ha residents up in arms over Hong Kong government plan for visitor’s centre in marine park” (August 6). I have had a presence in Hoi Ha since the late 1980s and have been present at all of the public meetings regarding the proposed centre. It is factually incorrect to say that the majority of the village are against it. At the last meeting between most villagers and the Agriculture, Fishers and Conservation Department, at least 80 per cent agreed it should be built. The department will have a record of this fact.

For some reason, a few noisy residents (a minority) have been “up in arms” for some time. Their claim that they represent the village is untrue. Their cited reasons not to build it make no sense either.

The centre has been planned since the early 1990s as a means to introduce ecology to Hong Kong students. Given that the nearby WWF centre is usually fully booked, there is a need to proceed now. This is also a good way to change the usage of the area from just tourism to education and ecotourism. It also offers to solve the acute parking problem in the village as well as restrict bus access.

The students visiting and working at this centre will provide a means to highlight the real issues in the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park and the surrounding area: to show that zoning should never have been proposed for the area, especially after the success in getting Tai Long Wan village included in the country park; and to carry out research that will isolate and show the real sources of village pollution into the bay. This pollution is a reason why, a few months before the Tolo red tides this year, a lack of oxygen in the bay left large areas of coral dead. The students should also be able to highlight the ecological importance of the Pak Sha O valley at Hoi Ha to show that it should never have been zoned as a village area, as some people proposed.

It’s worth asking: is the opposition to the centre a way of creating distriction from the real issues?

Paul Hodgson, Hoi Ha Wan