Secretary for Development, Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Legco Finance Committee,
We are petitioning against the creation of the Sustainable Lantau Office (SLO) as proposed. We urge that SLO be restructured to achieve the principle of ‘Balancing Development and Conservation’ on Lantau.
Subordinate to the Development Bureau and Civil Engineering and Development Department, SLO is to be responsible for implementing the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint (the Blueprint) launched by the government on June 3. However, the Blueprint fails to provide adequate protection and conservation of important sites and habitats on Lantau. At the same time, it fails to provide new conservation measures to stop the environmental vandalism occurring in Pui O, Shui Hao and Mui Wo. Dumping and tree felling have degraded the habitats of buffalo and cattle. The Blueprint also fails to provide protection for Chinese White Dolphins in the West and South-west Lantau waters.
Furthermore, the proposed SLO is to be led by engineers and planners; it has no representation from the Environment Bureau, which is responsible for conservation-related issues. Of the 16 projects and initiatives under SLO, only one item relates to conservation. Most of the conservation measures needed for Lantau are under-explored. Conservation measures are variously covered by amendments to environmental policies, laws and regulations, traffic strategies, designation and extension of Country Parks and Marine Parks, and strengthening enforcement under environment-related policies. The proposed SLO structure is incapable of providing a holistic conservation plan and implementing the related measures for Lantau. Moreover, the ambit of SLO includes the controversial East Lantau Metropolis and its feasibility study, which the Legislative Council has not approved.
If the conservation initiatives under the Sustainable Lantau Blueprint are genuinely to be pursued, Finance Committee members should object to the proposed SLO. The current proposal should be revoked and the SLO restructured based on the following five conditions:
The East Lantau Metropolis should be excluded from SLO’s jurisdiction.
SLO should take up the responsibility to plan and implement conservation measures, including those proposed by green groups.
The Environment Bureau should directly supervise the conservation section of SLO, and oversee the planning and implementation of conservation measures for Lantau. Proper professional staff should be recruited/engaged in the SLO to implement the conservation measures on Lantau and responsible to Environment Bureau.
The operation and works of SLO should be transparent and accountable to general public, and corresponding mechanism should be in place when SLO is set up. SLO should consult different stakeholders, including green groups, when implementing development and conservation measures.
Remarks: Conservation measures proposed by green groups include: a. Baseline Study to Set Up Inventory and Database; b. NO-GO Areas; c. Designation and Extension of Marine Parks; d. Conservation of Shui Hau Sandflat Habitat; e. Establish Reserve to Conserve Ecologically Sensitive Sites; f. Resumption of Private Lands for Conservation; g. Rural Township Character of Mui Wo; h. Flowers/Trees Appreciation; i. Green Transport and Traffic Strategy; j. Maintain Stringent Road Restriction; k. Environment-friendly, Smart Public Transport; l. Amendment to Town Planning & Waste Disposal Ordinance; m. Objection to East Lantau Metropolis.
(For more details please refer to the joint green groups letter: https://goo.gl/y4YMSy)