Grannie Green Revivial

For post before Aug 09, please read it with Traditional Chi Big 5 Code

Chp 82, Tung Chung River – Forty years champion for the environment

Tung Chung River

A strange theft took place in 2003: natural boulders were stolen from Tung Chung River causing destruction to the stream ecology. This was roundly condemned by green groups.

What was more bizarre was that the “thief” turned out to be a contractor of the Civil Engineering and Development Department. The boulders were procured for the construction of the artificial lake in Penny’s Bay.

CEDD was rightly chastised for lack of supervision over its contractors. The matter was discussed at the joint meeting of the LegCo Panel on Planning Lands and Works and Panel on Environmental Affairs on 23 February 2004. CA took the opportunity to submit a paper on “Rivers and Streams Conservation” calling for “an immediate review of the existing policy on the protection of local streams and rivers with the aim of rectifying the continued neglect and controlling the frequent destruction of such an important habitat type in Hong Kong.” For CA, Tung Chung River and other cases like concrete-lining of a stream at Sha Kok Mei showed that rivers and streams were not adequately protected

Ironically, much of the destruction was due to works carried out by the government under the rural public works programme of the Home Affairs Department, known as “Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy (RPIS)” in 1990-2000 and “Rural Public Works (RPW) Programme” afterwards. They are minor works projects intended to improve the living quality and environment of the rural areas, and may include projects on:

  • access roads, bridges, retaining walls, footpaths, parking areas, passing places and steps;
  • reservoirs, water pipelines, dams, wells, water tanks, pumps, irrigation channels and standpipes;
  • sewerage pipes and treatment facilities to unsewered villages;
  • drains, surface water channels, stream and river embankments, nullahs, culverts, bunds and flood mitigation measures.

However, being “minor” these projects are not required to go through careful planning or execution. Poor regulation and monitoring thus led to the unintended result of damaging streams and rivers. Sometimes the projects are by no means “minor” and this exacerbates the damage. Instead of improvements, they threaten ecology and damage rural landscape.

To prevent further damage, CA proposed that the government and developers should adopt the “presumption of conservation” principle, similar to the one imposed under the Harbour Protection Ordinance, for rivers and streams. Thus works affecting natural rivers and streams should only take place with enough justification after thorough public consultation. There should also be a central register of all rivers and streams in Hong Kong which should be made available to the works departments, private companies and the general public. As the conservation authority, the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department should be empowered to issue licenses for works affecting rivers and streams.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Dr WK Chan book | Leave a comment