- WE PETITION
- Mr Paul Chan, Secretary for DevelopmentMr Thomas Chow, Permanent Secretary for Development, Chairman of TPB
- Object to plans to develop and destroy Hoi Ha
Take a walk with us in and around Hoi Ha Marine Park SSSI and learn about the threats to the the landscape and ecology of this area of outstanding natural beauty and high ecological value. Woodland, streams, marshland and marine park are all under threat
Hoi Ha is one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful seaside villages, surrounded by Country Park hillside and fronted by Hoi Ha Marine Park, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with 64 species of coral. The area is rich in species of Conservation Interest not just in the sea but also on land, along the Hoi Ha stream, in the woodland, on the abandoned agricultural land and in the marshes.
Hoi Ha has no public sewage system and so all of the houses will need septic tanks, effluent from which will percolate through the soil into the Hoi Ha Stream and into the Marine Park.
Hopes have been dashed that the Town Planning Board would zone this environmentally-sensitive area in order to give priority to the landscape and to the environment. Instead, the TPB has come out on the side of development with proposals to triple the size of the village in a large V-zone with room for up to 100 houses and an adjacent zone of Green Belt, which is already being considered as a reservoir of future building land. These areas, which together comprise about 50% of the Development Permission Area, are on a mixture of mature woodland and on farmland which was abandoned more than 40 years ago and has reverted to shrubland habitat.
Facebook: Save Hoi Ha
With reference to the Draft of the Outline Zoning Plan of Hoi Ha which is presently being considered by the Town Planning Board, the undersigned PETITION the Hong Kong Government’s Town Planning Board:
1. To protect properly this area of outstanding natural beauty and high ecological value by zoning for conservation and not for development.
2. To consider their responsibilities under the Convention on Biodiversity, in particular Article 8 (e), which states that the Government has a responsibility to “Promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas with a view to furthering protection of these areas.”
3. To be mindful of the Law in their zoning, respect the 100 metre set-back distance between septic tanks and Hoi Ha Wan Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and impose a 30 metre set-back distance between septic tanks and streams. These measures are designed to prevent any development that would be in breach of the Law and/or cause pollution to Hoi Ha Wan.
4. To support the recommendations submitted to the Board by Non-Governmental Organisations, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) and Friends of Hoi Ha (FOHH) which detail the proper protection of the flora, fauna, landscape and hydrology of this area.
5. To re-designate the proposed Green Belt Area as Conservation Area.
6. To re-designate the proposed westward extension of the V-zone as Conservation Area.
7. To utilise an up-to-date map for planning purposes, that accurately shows the coastal erosion and the current boundaries of the beaches.
8. To increase the depth of the entire proposed Coastal Protection Area to a minimum buffer zone of 30 metres starting at the actual boundary of the Marine Park, not at an incorrect point on an inaccurate map.
9. To include the old walled village, a Site of Archaeological Interest, in the Coastal Protection Area, which would protect it from being bulldozed and redeveloped, and would allow it to be restored in the original style on the original footprint.
10. To move the Column 1 - “Always Allowed” - status of Agricultural Use in the definitions of Conservation Area and Coastal Protection Area into Column 2 – requiring the authorisation of the Town Planning Board. This is to prevent Agricultural activities being used as pretence to cover the trashing of areas prior to re-development.
11. To recommend to the Country and Marine Parks Authority that all of the Development Permission Area be subsumed into the Country and Marine Parks.
12. To recommend that all future Small House Applications be relocated to land outside the Hoi Ha enclave and outside Sai Kung Country Park, well away from environmentally sensitive areas of high landscape value.
b. 政府地圖沒有展現出海岸侵蝕的情況，以致老村的圍牆已不在原來的距離海岸線65 米，而是僅僅相距8.5 米。地圖上的土地，實則為長滿紅樹林的沙灘。漁護署拒絕與海下之友到海下實地視察，測繪處未能核實該處的植物實為紅樹林生長的沙地，而不是樹木長於泥土上。這個是保護海下的關鍵所在，假若漁護署能核實該處的植物，測繪處便能繪製出準確的地圖，城規會或能就那裡可起屋而作出不同的決定。證據如此關鍵，漁護署卻袖手旁觀，就如他們對待我們每一個保育訴求一樣，視而不見。我們並非盲目抗拒所有的發展，我們針對的只是破壞環境的發展。漁護署不支持環保的倡導，今次的災難正是漁護署拒絕將海下劃入西貢郊野公園範圍所引起。
1. 城規會未有在沙灘附近的舊村廢棄單層房屋加設規劃管制，城規會拒絕將他們劃入海岸保護區。這代表了，舊房屋可不受控制，隨時被推倒興建三層高的丁屋，建屋前甚至不需要做任何的土壤滲透的測試，新建的化糞池污水有可能流到8.5 米外的海岸公園。
2. 城規會受漁護署教唆，拒絕將「農業」放入「第二欄用途」，令農夫可以在海岸公園的5 米距離之近，使用對魚類有害的化學物，為海岸公園帶來大大的破壞。足以殺死魚類的劑量非常之少，約為一萬包薯片中含有一茶匙鹽，少到連漁護署也沒法量度。如果漁護署和城規會同意將農業放入「第二欄用途」，儘管未能停止農耕，但可以控制使用農藥去保諼海岸公園。漁護署拒絕倡導環保的農耕，你說有多奇怪？
即使有詳細的報告及多位環保專家的努力游說，城規會依然決定批准可以破壞海下河谷，一片富有生態價值的天然棲息地，以及破壞香港最重要的環境資源 - 海下灣海岸公園和具特殊科學價值地點。
Many thanks for your support. Unfortunately, the Government has decided to develop and destroy the Hoi Ha river valley and Hoi Ha Marine Park. Here is our English Press Release:
Press Release from FRIENDS OF HOI HA, 23 November, 2014
TOWN PLANNING BOARD SACRIFICES HOI HA MARINE PARK TO THE SMALL HOUSE POLICY
The Town Planning Board (TPB) met for the final time on Friday 21 November to finalise their plans for the zoning of 3 villages deep inside Country Parks: Hoi Ha, Pak Lap and So Lo Pun.
Despite detailed reports and strong presentations from environmental experts, the Board decided to allow zoning plans for the Hoi Ha river valley that will destroy ecologically-valuable habitat and may disastrously pollute one of Hong Kong’s most important environmental resources – Hoi Ha Marine Park and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The abandoned paddy fields in the Hoi Ha river valley have been reclaimed by nature and are now covered in a 40-year old woodland and in marshland, criss-crossed with streams. This land has been sold by the indigenous villagers to developers who have plans to completely cover the valley with houses. Even though it will be fraudulent for developers to enter into deals with so-called “indigenous villagers” (many of them living abroad with no intention of ever living in the village) to build dozens of New Territories Exempted Houses under the out-dated Small House Policy, the Board has condoned such corruption by zoning this habitat as V-zone and Green Belt (1). The Green Belt designation is an open invitation for developers to cut down the forest and drain the marshland so that bogus farming can destroy the ecological value of the river valley before an application to re-zone the area for housing is made. The houses built in this wilderness area will be for the benefit of absentee Indigenous Villagers and Property Developers, resulting in large profits for a few individuals and the destruction of the environment surrounding Hoi Ha and the pollution of Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park/SSSI by sewage, silt and agricultural chemicals.
Ominously, the Town Planning Board slipped a sentence into their Paper 9786, paragraph 3.8, released just a few days before the hearing, which states that ‘Should there be a genuine need for more Small House development, flexibility had been provided under the rezoning application system to expand the “V” zone”. This is of concern to Friends of Hoi Ha who had been assured by AFCD, who refused to support our request that this area be zoned as Conservation Area, that Green Belt was adequate protection for the ecologically-sensitive valley. Nicola Newbery, Chair of FOHH, requested the Board to remove the sentence as it gives encouragement for the private areas of the GB(1) area to be trashed by the developers who own the land in the expectation of a re-zoning into building land. Newbery asked the Board if this was an oversight when the Green Belt area was re-zoned as GB(1); perhaps they had forgotten to erase the sentence? If not an oversight, and Green Belt (1) is viewed by the Town Planning Board as a reservoir of future building land, then this suggests that environmental experts have been fobbed off with Green Belt (1) and were correct in requesting the area be zoned as Conservation Area.
Meanwhile, the ruins of the old village have been incorporated into the V-zone. The village used to be more than 50 metres from the sea but coastal erosion has now led to a situation where the beach comes within 9 metres of the old village walls. The area in front of the old village has been misleadingly mapped. A band approximately 10 metres wide is shown as land whereas, in reality, it is beach covered in mangroves. The area is designated as land because of the foliage cover visible from satellite photographs. AFCD has refused to advise the Survey and Mapping Office of the presence of a mangrove belt which, with AFCD’s concurrence, would be correctly mapped. The ruins of the old village can be rebuilt as 3-storey NTEHs without any form of planning permission – therefore, we may see up to 8 NTEHs with associated Septic Tank Systems built within 10 metres of the beach which not only forms the boundary of Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park but, also, is regularly used by visitors for recreation. FOHH asked for the old village to be incorporated into the Coastal Protection Zone, so that any building on the site would be subject to a proper planning process which would ensure that no pollution from new houses would not adversely affect Hoi Ha Wan, but this request was ignored.
Various Government Departments have been negligent throughout the entire 3-year Development Permission Area (DPA) period.
1. AFCD has been negligent in failing to incorporate the Hoi Ha enclave into Sai Kung Country Park, and in not advising the TPB of the environmental consequences of the proposed Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) – particularly the effects of pollution on Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park / SSSI - and have made no effort to improve their woefully inadequate flora and fauna data on the area.
2. EPD has been negligent in not applying the Law and official, written policy in respect of the licensing of Septic Tank Systems, and of not advising the TPB on the constraints on Septic Tank construction in the Hoi Ha OZP.
3. The Planning Department has been negligent in not providing the TPB with accurate, up-to-date maps which accurately show the physical features of the area – e.g. coastline and streams.
Every request for Government to do its job, apply the Law, zone appropriately and carefully control activities that may have dire and irreversible environmental impacts on the Marine Park, have been turned down. The Government has shown no interest whatsoever in ensuring that any development and any farming be environmentally-friendly at this biodiversity hotspot. For example, quoting from Paragraph 3.16 of Paper 9786:
a) “AFCD comments that all pesticides registered under the Pesticides Ordinance Cap.133 are safe to use if applied according to the label directions.” This is nonsense and one can only question the integrity of a scientist employed by AFCD who would make such a demonstrably untrue statement. The reality is that the Ordinance covers the Manufacture and Sale of Chemicals, not their use. Many chemicals on the list, which are regularly used by farmers in Kong Kong, are highly toxic to marine life in tiny concentrations. AFCD further elaborated, “Taking into account the above factors, the AFCD agrees that there is no strong justification for imposing more stringent control on ‘Agricultural Use’ within the “GB(1)” zone.” FOHH advised the Board that this Statement is not supported by the facts and ignores the further impacts of silt from excavation and fertilizers from agriculture washing into Hoi Ha Wan. Silt, and polluting chemicals and fertilisers from uncontrolled farming activities may KILL Hoi Ha Wan.
b) FOHH challenged another statement made by the TPB that “Moreover, permission from the Board is required for any works relating to diversion of streams, filling of land/ pond or excavation of land, which may cause adverse impacts on the natural environment.” Friends of Hoi Ha have been working with the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) who came to Hoi Ha over a 3-week period in August of this year to map the current, still-eroding coastline and to plot the various streams in the river valley. No sooner had the streams been plotted, then they were erased from the September 2014 edition of the SMO’s Hoi Ha map, the excuse being that their ‘internal policy’, which is not available to the public, is to remove any streams that flow through private agricultural land – even if that land is abandoned and now forest. Friends of Hoi Ha believe that it is no coincidence that that the area where the streams have been erased form the map, land that has been sold to developers, has been zoned as building land, and asked the Town Planning Board how illegal activities such as diverting streams can be policed if the streams on private land are not marked on the maps of the area? The Town Planning Board and the Planning Department have overlooked this inconvenient fact.
Why is the Hong Kong Government so determined to develop and destroy our wilderness areas? The requirement to build, recognised by the Planning Department, is dominated by desire (to make a lot of money), rather than need (few, if any, IVs actually want to live in the village). Yet, the plans to develop and destroy the Hoi Ha river valley and the Marine Park are supported by several Government departments, namely AFCD, EPD and the Planning Department, who have presented to the TPB misleading information, inadequate research and untruths. FOHH asked the Town Planning Board members why this is the case. Is it incompetence, or fear of the Heung Yee Kuk / Indigenous Villagers? Is it Disinterest? Or, more ominously, is this Policy direction from the highest levels of Government – to develop at all costs?
FOHH made 3 simple requests of the TPB:
1. To incorporate the old village within the Coastal Protection Area so that any building must be subject to Planning Controls.
2. To Put Agricultural Use into “Column 2 “of the schedules to ensure that any agricultural activities are genuine and environmentally-friendly.
3. To Make the GB (1) into Conservation Area to remove the expectation that GB can be turned into building land by the destruction of anything of ecological interest.
Acceding to these requests would not prevent building and farming activities at Hoi Ha but they would allow a degree of control to ensure that any activities would be conducted in such a way as to ensure the integrity of the surrounding environment, in particular, Hoi Ha Wan – as required by Hong Kong’s commitments to the Convention on Bio-Diversity. By refusing these reasonable requests, the Town Planning Board has failed to ensure that controlled, environmentally-friendly building and agriculture will take place at Hoi Ha, and they have failed to ensure that Hoi Ha and Hoi Ha Wan will be preserved for future generations and continue to be valuable resources for tourism and education.
Hoi Ha is now facing an environmental disaster. The Marine Park may be killed by domestic effluent, silt from excavation and pollution from agricultural chemicals – for ever. This will be the legacy of the members of the Town Planning Board to the people of Hong Kong. They knew the facts; they are well documented and are a matter of public record. They chose to ignore them. If Hoi Ha Wan is destroyed, they cannot claim that they did not know the consequences of their decisions.
One can only speculate on who is pulling the strings of AFCD, EPD and the Planning Department, and wonder what is the point of having 2 Government Departments responsible for Conservation and Environmental Protection if neither one is prepared to do just that. There is such a conflict of interest between the ‘A’ and ‘C’ of AFCD that one wonders why AFD was given Conservation in the first place. Maybe it is time for Government to take away funding from AFCD and set up a specialist Conservation Department.
The undemocratic Small House Policy, riddled as it is with fraud and corruption, is another strand to the Democracy/Umbrella Movement, and is another example of why ordinary people are so disillusioned with a Government that is run for and by property speculators and developers who are prepared to sacrifice, to the avarice of a few, not only Hong Kong’s most popular Marine Park at Hoi Ha Wan, but also other biodiversity hotspots throughout our Country Parks.
Friends of Hoi Ha
Hoi Ha Marine Park SSSI is to be sacrificed to the Small House Policy.
Will they throw the Draft Outline Zoning Plan back to the Planning Department and AFCD and ask them to do better?
The Town Planning Board received over 30,000 representations and comments on the draft Outline Zoning Plans for Hoi Ha, Pak Lap and So Lo Pun. Everyone has now received an invitation to be heard by the Board. The hearings will start 28 April and are expected to end mid-May.
We urge you to try and present your personal view. It is important to demonstrate that safeguarding the Country Parks is a matter of great public concern.
In your reply to the Town Planning Board on or before 8 April please include:
1.The estimated time needed for your presentation
“I will need xx minutes for my presentation.”;
2.If necessary, request to be heard in a morning or afternoon session
“I prefer to be heard in the morning/afternoon due to other commitments.”;
3.Request to be heard on a Saturday if you are not available on a weekday
“I wish to be heard on a Saturday due to work commitments.”
Don’t hesitate to send us your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will publish next week a “How to make a presentation to the Town Planning Board” on our website.
Together We Can Save Our Country Parks!
P.S. We don’t promote the use of proxies. However, if you have a speech, video or presentation which you wish ‘A Member of the Save Our Country Park Alliance’ to deliver, please send us the signed (signature, name and date) proxy form via fax or email. We will complete the details of the representative.
Save Our Country Parks
Please spread the word and see if we can reach this figure today.
LETTER TO TOWN PLANNING BOARD OBJECTING TO HOI HA’S DRAFT OUTLINE ZONING PLAN
Please write a letter (sample below) to the TPB before the end of day, Wednesday 27 November. Numbers count, so please write and share!
Please personalize this by adding your own introductory paragraph so that all the letters received are slightly different.
Chairman, Town Planning Board
Email address: email@example.com
Draft Hoi Ha Outline Zoning Plan No: S/NE-HH/1
I am writing in support of the inclusion of the Hoi Ha enclave into Sai Kung Country Park and into Hoi Ha Marine Park and urge the Town Planning Board to suggest this.
In the interim, I support the proper zoning of Hoi Ha Marine Park for conservation, and object to the Town Planning Board’s Draft Outline Zoning Plan, which has zoned Hoi Ha for development. Green Belt should be replaced with Conservation Area, the V-zone should be much-reduced and limited to the existing village cluster, and the draft expanded V-Zone should be rezoned as Conservation Area.
My reasons for objecting are these:
• The requirement for an enlarged V-zone has been based on an unrealistic assessment of the need for housing.
• The Town Planning Board has been given inaccurate maps and incomplete and misleading data on the environmental and landscape value of the V-zone and Green Belt areas.
• The building of a large number of houses equipped with Septic Tanks will pollute Hoi Ha Wan, will kill the marine life and may make the beaches unsafe for bathing.
• The coastline is of environmental importance and needs to be protected by a buffer zone of Coastal Protection Area at least 30 metres from the shore.
• The Hoi Ha Stream is of environmental importance and needs to be protected by a buffer zone of Conservation Area at least 30 metres wide.
Spread the word, make it happen
Chair of environmental NGO, Friends of Hoi Ha