Environmental organizations slammed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for suggesting that green groups were to be blamed for a land short-supply in Hong Kong, news website inmediahk.net reported.
Leung said in his policy address on Wednesday that the government had designated a large amount of land for non-developmental purposes, such as construction of country parks, after the Asian financial crisis, a move which has now led to insufficient land for housing.
Lobbying by environmental groups led to more land being funneled into country parks, he implied.
Responding to the comments, six environmental groups issued a joint statement saying that Leung was off the mark.
They noted that only the Lung Fu Shan Country Park in the central and western district of Hong Kong Island and the Lantau North (Extension) Country Park were designated as parks after 1997. Also, both sites were selected for use as country parks as early as in 1993. Therefore the move had nothing to do with the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the green groups said.
The statement went on to add that Hong Kong’s housing problems are complex and that they involve several factors, such as land hoarding by developers, the New Territories Small House Policy, military land use and “brownfield sites”. It is downright wrong to boil down the issue to country parks, it said.
Meanwhile, Leung said in the policy address that the administration will seek the support of Lantau Development Advisory Committee for early commencement of a preliminary study on the East Lantau Metropolis and to look into the development of artificial islands in the eastern waters off Lantau, including transport infrastructure to link up to the western part of New Territories and Hong Kong Island.
The green groups said they oppose this idea as government data has shown that air quality in Lantau has been the worst in Hong Kong for many years. The air quality was on the borderline of exceeding acceptable levels, as per many environmental impact assessment studies, it said.
The groups said Lantau should be prioritized for conservation, rather than development, given its unique natural landscape, ecological resources and cultural heritage. If roads are to be opened on southern Lantau, the government will be unable to stop illegal development and illegal dumping, they said.
The statement was issued by The Conservancy Association, Friends of the Earth (HK), Green Power, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Greenpeace Hong Kong, and Greeners Action.
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