'You might not be able to set foot on the MacLehose Trail anymore': Iconic Hong Kong hiking trail under threat from developers

Student seeks judicial review over sale of site for housing that would impact country park

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 12:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 10:39am

A student is challenging the Lands Department's decision to sell a chunk of land near a country park to developers for housing, including an area encompassing part of the popular MacLehose Trail.

City University student Kwok Ka-ping on Thursday filed for a judicial review of the department's decision to put 2.1 hectares of land in Tai Wo Ping, up for tender. The land is located near Chak On Estate in Shek Kip Mei.

Roy Tam Hoi-pong of environmental group Green Sense, which helped Kwok file the writ, said that apart from the land allocated for sale, the 20 hectares surrounding it would also be given to the successful bidder for geographic assessment and "stabilisation". Of the 20 hectares, 12 are located inside Lion Rock Country Park, through which Stage Five of the MacLehose Trail passes.

"You might not be able to set foot on the MacLehose Trail anymore," Tam said, adding, "We cannot accept country parks being incorporated into a tender."

Tam described the decision as "unprecedented" in that the department had never before set aside such a large chunk of land for developers to explore.

He said stabilisation work would be carried out near the plot earmarked for sale, as the site was too steep. Such work could include heavy machines and the installation of structures like retaining walls, resulting in a loss of trees.

Kwok, a Lok Fu resident, contests the decision on the grounds the department is defeating the purpose of having country parks and failing to meet public expectations.

He is also arguing it has exceeded its authority and that such matters fall partially under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.