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Villagers in northern Lantau destroy mangrove in protest over potential restrictions

Monday, 25 August, 2014

Ernest Kao

Dozens of villagers in northern Lantau chopped down a mangrove near an ecologically sensitive bay yesterday to protest against a government move to zone areas on the fringes of their villages as protected land.

Excavators were brought in to raze trees, while machete- and hoe-wielding villagers chopped down shrubs on the coast of Tai Ho Wan, which is known for its oyster-rich mudflats and horseshoe crabs.

Together with the three rivers that feed it, Tai Ho Wan is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), but not yet zoned as such. Statutory planning rules would ensure government departments give due consideration to conservation if the proposal was approved later this year.

But indigenous villagers of the San Heung community, which includes Pak Mong, Ngau Kwu Long and Tai Ho villages, fear their rights to farm and build small houses will be restricted if the restrictive development plans are agreed to.

“Step by step, the government has been depriving us land owners of our rightful use of land, which was originally designated for agricultural use,” the community said in a declaration in which they also demanded to meet the development and environment ministers.

They blamed construction of the North Lantau Highway in the 1990s for blocking discharge from the river and flooding coastal farmland. The indigenous villagers said in their declaration that the government had “bullied” them again in 1999 with the SSSI designation.

“All we want is to return our farmland to agricultural use without any prior conditions,” said Ngau Kwu Long village spokesman Lam Chu. “You can’t just take away our land without our consent or compensation.”

Heung Yee Kuk vice-chairman Daniel Lam Wai-keung showed up to support the villagers’ protest yesterday.

Green groups were outraged at the destruction of the mangrove. “I’m furious. This is disrespectful,” said Eddie Tse Sai-kit of the Save Lantau Alliance. “If they really cared for the land and wanted to farm it, then they would not do such as thing.”

Tse said most of the private land in the enclave had been sold to developers in the 1990s.

“It is worth questioning whether they’re really doing this for the right to build small houses,” he said.

Under an interim development plan covering 230 hectares, gazetted in March, the villages’ development zones are limited to 1.27 hectares, which the villagers say constrains their right to build small houses.

“It’s a lie … Most villagers just want to transfer their small-house rights for a profit,” said Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong. “If they wanted to farm they would have done so long ago.”

Clear the Air says:

This just in:

附上大蠔、白芒、牛牯塱一帶的land search,未100%完成,不過餘下未做的大多是原居民持有。除了置地外,幾乎所有公司都未能直接與發展商連上關係,但經調查後公司的關係應如下:
Jet Channel Development Company Limited – 新鴻基

Tongking International Limited

Tong Mu International Limited

Lucky Pearl Investments Limited – 太古地產

Corona Land Company Limited – 置地

Greenmatch Company Limited – 俊文地產(即俊文珠寶家族)

Monat Investment Limited

Wrencrest Estates Limited – 永常集團胡永輝家族

Union Key Investment Limited 由律師行代持,未知幕後老闆

New Century Device Company Limited 為 BVI,未知幕後老闆
另再覆查後, 張建東已於2009年辭去新鴻基的非執行董事職位,

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