Lamma Quarry EIA Response 21 March 2014

OBJECTION to the  ‘Planning and Engineering Study on Future Land Use at Ex-Lamma Quarry Area at Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island – Feasibility Study’‏

LETTER

Hong Kong Island & Islands Development Office,

Civil Engineering & Development Department,

13/F North Point Government Offices,

333, Java Road, North Point

Hong Kong

21st March 2014

To whom it may concern:

OBJECTION to the  ‘Planning and Engineering Study on Future Land Use at Ex-Lamma Quarry Area at Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island – Feasibility Study’‏

We have already submitted objections to the above study (hereafter “the Study”) for detailed ecological reasons in a joint letter based upon the research carried out by the Eco-Education & Resources Centre, dated 20 March 2014.

We have also carried out our own extensive research into Lamma’s planning and development history, as well as having our own experience of trying to improve our environment over the last 5 years, and would therefore like to add the following objections:

  1. “The Study” ignores the developmental context of Lamma Island.

The map shows the property that has been acquired by Bobby Li of King Wong Development. Lamma 7 is the landing point in the quarry. Lamma 1 is a “luxury development” which has been unoccupied since its completion in 2006. The quarry study includes connectivity between Lamma 6 and Lamma 3. Lamma 4 and 5 are the Baroque. The CEO of the Baroque sat on the Town Planning Board from 2006-2011, during which time an alternative plan for the quarry which would have created a sports, leisure and environmental education destination in keeping with the Statutory Outline Zoning Plan was quietly dropped.

The alternative plan, see Agreement CE65/96 May 2000, was commissioned by the Planning Department. This was kept out of the public consultation last year despite questions to the consultants about the planning intention and history of the quarry. The plans only came to us after we had submitted our report to CEDD and the consultancy team. Here is the concept plan:

0011-CE65-96-Fig5.x_concept.jpg

We have tried to determine why this plan, which would retain Lamma’s uniqueness and have benefits for the community and Hong Kong on so many different levels, was dropped in favour of Bobby Li’s vision for the island. This has not been explained by the consultants to the study, who continue to exclude this information in their presentations to the public.

FOR THIS REASON, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STUDY STOPPED PENDING A FULL INVESTIGATION INTO LAND OWNERSHIP AND THE INFLUENCE THAT LAMMA DEVELOPERS HAVE HAD ON THE TOWN PLANNING BOARD AND OTHER GOVERNMENT BODIES.

  1. “The Study” ignores the environmental context

The Eco-Education and Resources Centre’s research examines the ecology of Lamma Island. Living Lamma also has its own experience of trying to protect habitats from dumping and littering. We have catalogued this experience and would like to add a note about the way in which the language used by government consultants to justify “the Study” simply does not make sense in the wider environmental context.

Words like “brown field site” and “low ecological value” are only meaningful if “conservation areas,” “coastal protection areas,” “green belt” and things with “high ecological value” are adequately protected. This is not the case on Lamma where locally dumping and littering are ubiquitous and the waste washing up on our shoreline turns our beaches into landfill sites. Adding a further 5,000 people will make an already bad situation into a catastrophe.

FOR THIS REASON, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STUDY STOPPED PENDING A FULL INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF LITTERING AND DUMPING ON OUR ENVIRONMENT WITH THE AIM OF PROVIDING MEANINGFUL PROTECTION FOR LAMMA’S EXISTING ECOLOGICAL ASSETS.

  1. “The Study” does not establish housing need at that location

The consultants failed to provide the public with any figures on which to establish housing need at that location. Land expert, Roger Nissim, has argued that the only type of financially viable housing would be luxury flats, which would likely end up as empty investment properties, as evidenced by Lamma 1. These provide no benefit to the community or to those people in society who are in desperate need of basic housing.

The lack of employment opportunities and schools would require families with low incomes to incur high transportation costs to get to Hong Kong Island even before they commence their journeys to work or school. It also makes no sense to promise facilities and services to a fictitious population, while the existing population is denied simple improvements to their community.

FOR THIS REASON, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE “THE STUDY” STOPPED AND PUBLIC FUNDS DIVERTED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF THE MOST NEEDY IN SOCIETY.

And finally,

We raise our concerns about this study in 2011 (see attached). We received no satisfactory feedback and we saw “the Study” continue as if these concerns had not been raised. These objections still stand. We submitted a 30-page report in response to the Stage 1 consultation (which we also resend with this letter). Again, we received no feedback from the consultants and “the Study” continues as if there had been no consultation. The consultants did not respond to our invitation to visit Lamma for a guided visit to understand more about the context.

The consultation has now moved to “Stage 2,” concluding that the options put forward had been “well-received.” This was not the experience of those of us who were present at the 3 meetings, where the total number of people speaking in favour of the plans could be counted on one hand. What we saw were the majority of people asking sensible questions, raising concerns, or highlighting facilities and services that the existing population needs (a 24-hour doctor, for example) and the consultants unwilling or unable to answer these concerns and questions. This experience has been recorded and reported – see for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzILEO7dxGs for a news report on the heated exchanges at the Study consultation in Central and the lack of transparency.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLCyPuqot9Y for the exchange between the consultants and the public at the consultation in Yung Shue Wan.

Once again, the period for public comments for the EIA application on “the Study” has not been posted in the community. Most people are unaware of it and will have assumed (given the level of participation last year) that the project would have been re-evaluated. Sadly for Hong Kong, there seems to be no sincere attempt to consult, other than to use public participation to pursue an agenda regardless of the evidence. We hope this is not the case in this instance.

Best regards

Jo Wilson
Chairperson
Living Lamma