Threat to marine reserve and mangroves as large landowner moves in to Kei Ling Ha

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The current state of the area to be turned into a hobby farm.         Photo: 黄文邦/Apple Daily

In February BUZZ reported a Town Planning Board (TPB) application to build a “hobby farm” in Kei Ling Ha Lo Wai in a Coastal Protection Area (CPA) in Three Fathoms Cove. A number of Chinese language media have recently highlighted the company heading  this application, and the potential impact that it, and associated developments, mean for the area. Apple Daily reports that a local landlords with large holdings are buying up the area and plan to use 20,000 sq. ft. as a private park. A number of environmental groups are worried about the development, as it is near a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and will affect the flow of sewage as well as affecting mud flats and mangroves, causing an ecological disaster.

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More than 36,000 sq. ft. of land in Kei Ling Ha has been purchased by local landlords/developers, of which 20,000 squ. ft. are for the farm.            Graphic: Apple Daily

Kei Ling Ha lies off of Sai Sha Road. It is at the western side of Three Fathoms Cove. There are coastal mudflats with  a narrow mangrove forest, known for its scenic beauty. Around 48 hectares of the area part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Apple Daily has found that Companies Registry data show that Instinct Investment Co., Ltd. (智力投資有限公司) and BP Group Co., Ltd. (龍堡集團有限公司) spent over $10 million to purchase more than 36,000 sq. ft. of land along the coast in 2006 and 2014. A Mr Wong (黃才平), a local land owner and developer is a director and shareholder of Instinct Investment and also a shareholder of BP Group.

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The area in 2012, 2014 and 2017 showing the degradation over the past seven years    Gaphics: Apple Daily

According to conservationists, since 2014, over 20,000 sq. ft. of  the area has been destroyed with some agricultural structures built. Some local villagers said that culprit is a “local squire”. They were afraid to talk to the media.

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Three Fathoms Cove  mudflats and mangroves showing where the proposed farm will be built. Photo; 黄文邦/Apple Daily

As BUZZ reported, TPB received and application in January this year to develop the area  along the Kei Ling Ha Lo Wai waterfront. The application requests permission to  construct a temporary sports entertainment venue (Leisure/Hobby Farm), on an area of about 20,000 sq ft. The applicant claims that the project is an environmentally friendly organic farm, planting organic vegetables, charging visitors an entrance fee, and all sewage will be processed through septic tanks.

When reporters visited the area last month, it was clear that the place had been recently tidied up. However, the Conservancy Association has a different point of view. They consider discharged sewage from the farm as well as the increase in numbers of visitors to the area will affect the ecology of the mud flats.

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An officer from The Conservancy Association is concerned that any development will affect the ecology near the mudflats Photo:  黄文邦/Apple Daily

After complaints to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) were received about the state of the place in April last year it seems some government officials visited the area and found signs of contamination, as well as other violations of the pollution ordinances. EPD has provided a report to TBP about water quality, waste management and noise mitigation and these will be taken into account when the TPB meets. This was scheduled for early March but the applicant has requested a deferment.

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