Greens unite in park fight

NINETEEN green groups signed a joint petition opposing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s proposal to build houses on the outskirts of country parks in areas that have “low ecological value.”

They also warned that a suggestion to build houses on 170 hectares of land near the 5,300-hectare Tai Lam Country Park (大欖郊野公園) may threaten fresh water sources.

But Leung, who proposed the plans in his final policy address, said Hong Kong needs to boost land supply and insisted on building public housing on the edges of country parks, which account for about 40 percent of land.

Water gathering grounds of reservoirs, which provide a steady supply of safe drinking water, are largely located in country parks, Green Sense (環保觸覺) noted. The group worries that reservoir water could be contaminated by construction work near the country park area.

Developing the edge of country park land is “a lazy move” as the government wants to avoid dealing with rural leaders to retrieve 1,192 hectares of brownfield land in the New Territories, the groups argued, adding it is difficult to define “low ecological value.”

Friends of Hoi Ha (海下之友) chairwoman Nicola Newbery said most country parks have low public transport accessibility and lack supporting facilities, such as hospitals, making it “impractical” for building public housing.

The groups urged the next chief executive not to continue with Leung’s proposal but pledge to protect country park areas.

(This article is published on Sing Tao Daily on 8 February 2017)

Study on country parks set

Joint statement from green groups