Grannie Green Revivial

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

Chp 92, Wetland conservation: “Public-Private Partnership” – Forty years champion for the environment

Wetland conservation: “Public-Private Partnership”

In January 2000, seven green groups including the Conservancy Association, ABLE (Charity) Ltd, Friends of the Earth, Green Lantau Association, Green Peng Chau Association, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and Produce Green Foundation jointly issued a statement entitled “Objection to Development in Conservation Areas”, to express their “grave concern and strong objection to what appears to be a trend towards encouraging developments in designated conservation areas”.

The statement was occasioned, among other things, by a new private-public partnership (PPP) approach for the abandoned fishponds in North West New Territories, which form an integral system with the adjacent wetland, including the Mai Po marshes. The latter is designated as a Ramsar site, a wetland system of international recognition. The approach Under the PPP concept, which had the blessing of the Town Planning Board, developers may be allowed to develop part of the wetland in exchange for conservation, the latter through some form of wetland trust. While stating support for the concept of Wetland Trust, the green groups emphasised that they did not recognise the existence of development rights in conservation areas. The PPP concept which involves development in exchange for conservation should therefore be only one of the options to be considered. Furthermore, since the objective is conservation, the PPP option should be “by definition… a matter of exception, not a matter of course”.

The groups then listed five criteria which should be met if the development option were to be pursued:

  1. the principle of no net loss of wetland to be satisfied;
  2. the integrity of the wetland with the rest of the Ramsar site, including the preservation of rural character, is enhanced;
  • the development rights arising from the wetland area concerned are transferred to non-sensitive development areas away from the wetland;
  1. the development can generate sufficient contributions to an independent wetland trust which will be used to support the long term management and enhancement of the wetland system;
  2. the impact of possible cumulative effects on the wetland is fully assessed and deemed acceptable.

The green groups went on to say that even if development were justified for the purpose of conservation, the best endeavour should be made to undertake the development offsite, so as not to destroy the rural character around the wetland.

The paper also warns against opening a floodgate to landowners to claim development rights to achieve conservation, emphasizing that there should be a presumption of “no development rights” in conservation areas.

As expected by the green groups, the PPP concept gave rise to many applications for development of the fishponds, packaged and presented as conservation projects. However, as of 2008, although some PPP plans have been approved, not one has materialized yet.

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Dr WK Chan book | Leave a comment