15 October 2018
Hoi Ha, a remote village is Sai Kung, is a wildlife sanctuary and one of Hong Kong's best-kept secrets. Photo: Alex Leung/Flickr
Hoi Ha, a remote village is Sai Kung, is a wildlife sanctuary and one of Hong Kong's best-kept secrets. Photo: Alex Leung/Flickr

Villagers in last-ditch bid to overturn house construction ban

Residents of a remote village in Sai Kung district have launched a last-ditch campaign against a ban on small house construction ahead of a government review of the controversial policy Friday.

In e-mails sent to more than 10 concern groups, villagers in Hoi Ha said they are opposed to any moves to reduce the areas where indigenous residents can build small houses, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

A building ban was implemented by the government in July after environmentalists, academics and the media said further construction in these areas could damage their delicate ecosystem.

On Friday, the Town Planning Board will review a draft zoning plan that includes a proposed widening of the no-build zone.

The villagers reject such a plan and are demanding to be allowed to build more houses.

Hoi Ha, two hours away from the Central business district, has no public transport and is served by infrequent minibuses that operate only during daytime.

Nestled amid country parks and a marine sanctuary, the charming seaside village is so remote only one road connects it to Sai Kung, which makes it largely untouched.

The area is a wildlife preserve of rare land and marine species that thrive in abandoned farmland and teeming marshes, according to environmental group Support HK.

Local town planners originally allowed more than 90 small houses to be built in Hoi Ha but cut the number to 40 after objections from environmental advocates.

Leung Mei-yee, a biology professor in the University of Hong Kong, said building more than 40 houses in Hoi Ha would increase sewage, potentially causing damage to the coral ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the Heung Yee Kuk, the rural council that represents indigenous villagers in the New Territories, said a “weed-cleaning” campaign will be launched on Sunday in Tung Ping Chau to protest a government plan to restrict residents’ land development rights.

A similar protest by villagers in Tai Ho Wan in northern Lantau Island in August resulted in the destruction of protected mangroves after hoes and bulldozers were used in the operation.

The protesters later said they had picked the wrong area for the protest action.

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