Date
11 December 2017
Stanley Wong (right), chairman of the Task Force on Land Supply, and Greg Wong, vice-chairman of the panel, speak to reporters after a committee meeting on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ
Stanley Wong (right), chairman of the Task Force on Land Supply, and Greg Wong, vice-chairman of the panel, speak to reporters after a committee meeting on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

Task force advises caution over housing devt at country parks

As the government mulls a plan for housing development on the periphery of some country parks, an expert panel has advised caution, saying many factors need to be taken into consideration before authorities kick off such new projects.

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, who chairs the Task Force on Land Supply, told reporters Tuesday that all the committee members agreed that country parks are precious assets that have great ecological value.

As such, discretion must be exercised before launching any housing project on the fringes of country parks, Wong said, laying out the consensus view of the panel members who held their fifth meeting earlier in the day.

The task force, whose mission is to explore different options and priorities regarding land supply, as well as to engage the community in related discussions to build consensus for further consideration by the government, estimated it will take 15 to 20 years before all feasibility studies are completed.

Given the fact that country parks attract millions of visitors every year, any proposal to put up housing estates at their periphery warrants extreme caution, even if there is consensus among the general public on the need to utilize the land for such projects, Wong said, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Stressing that thresholds for such development must be set very high, including whether there are better options of land supply and whether there is sufficient ecological compensation, Wong said the task force considered it proper to raise the issue when public consultations are launched next year.

As for a proposal to fill up Plover Cove Reservoir and turn it into residential land, Dr. Greg Wong Chak-yan, vice-chairman of the task force, said the plan raises the same issues as those pertaining to development of country parks because it is part of the Plover Cove Country Park, which is in northeast New Territories.

Citing government data, Wong pointed out that the Plover Cove Country Park not only has higher ecological value than its counterparts but also is very important in terms of water supply. Storage amount of the city’s drinking water will be down to three-to-four months of supply, from four-to-six months, without it, he said.

The task force believes development of the reservoir, which may take more than 20 years due to related engineering work involving dam and infrastructure issues, should be put on the backburner and that authorities should instead deal with the issues related to country parks first.

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