Date
29 May 2017
This aerial photo shows part of a green belt in Ta Po that has been turned into an open-air storage. Enviromental groups say it's an illegal dumpsite. Photo: Green Sense/Facebook
This aerial photo shows part of a green belt in Ta Po that has been turned into an open-air storage. Enviromental groups say it's an illegal dumpsite. Photo: Green Sense/Facebook

Suspected illegal Tai Po dumpsite linked to Wheelock

A Tai Po green belt the size of nine football fields has been turned into an open-air storage.

It’s being used as an illegal dumping ground for garbage, discarded construction materials and heavy machinery, Apple Daily reports, citing environmental group Green Sense.

The dumpsite has grown to about nine hectares from two hectares since 2000 when it became operational.

Some trees had been cleared to make way for it, the group said, adding complaints to the Tai Po district council have remained unanswered. 

At least 80 percent of the green belt was traced to a company called Hobman Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of developer Wheelock and Co. Ltd. (00020.HK), Apple Daily reported, citing its own investigation.

Hobman bought the land in 1994 and 1995, it said.

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam criticized the government for not enforcing the Town Planning Ordinance, saying it is allowing some landlords in the New Territories to destroy nature.

Tam said offenders are liable to a HK$500,000 (US$64,449) fine in addition to a HK$50,000 penalty for each day improvements are not made.

Even so, the punishment does not go far enough, he said.

In a written reply, the Planning Department said it has no jurisdiction over the land in question.

And the Lands Department said the site is part of agricultural property that has no land-use restrictions.

However, it said it will investigate whether any structures have been built on the land without government approval.

Chan Kim-ching, a researcher in Liber Research Community, said the case shows loopholes in the Town Planning Ordinance over jurisdiction and zoning.

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TL/AC/RA

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