WWF opposes to the Proposed Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) in Nam Sang Wai and Nature Reserve in Lut ChauBackground
In 1994, conditional approval was granted to golf course and residential development at Nam Sang Wai by the Town Planning Appeal Board (TPAB), requiring the provision of a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and detailed habitat creation and management plans for Nam Sang Wai and Lut Chau Nature Reserve as some of the planning conditions. Later in 1996, the decision of TPAB was upheld by the Privy Council. Recently, the development proposal has been modified, including a reduction of the area of the golf course from 43 ha to 10 ha while some mitigation measures have been proposed to address the ecological impacts. Nevertheless, as what we did in 1994, WWF maintains our objection to the 2010 modified plan for the proposed development at Nam Sang Wai as the ecological impacts remain unacceptable.
The developer applied for further extension of time for commencemen of the proposed development. On 10 December 2010, the Town Planning Board rejected to such application. (Application No of the development at Town Planning Board: DPA/YL-NSW/12)
WWF opposes to the Nam Sang Wai Development. In view of local, regional and international importance of the Deep Bay wetlands, WWF considers that all further loss in areas and functions of wetlands in the Deep Bay area should be prevented, and where existing wetlands are actively managed for wildlife conservation with respect to the wise use principle according to the Ramsar Convention. Furthermore, WWF has concerns on various aspects of the development project.
Our major concerns are as follow:
Unacceptable ecological impacts due to huge loss of wetland—the development scale is extremely extensive, in which 54 ha of on-site wetland habitats will be lost for residential and golf course uses. Such a massive change of land uses will inevitably result in the loss of ecological function of the original ponds at Nam Sang Wai, rendering the ecological impacts to the wildlife unacceptable. The adverse impacts are not only confined within Nam Sang Wai, but also extended to the wetland ecosystem of the entire Deep Bay.
Not in line with the “no-net-loss in wetland” principle—the “no-net-loss in wetland” principle is the current standard for developments within the “Wetland Conservation Area” (“WCA”) under the TPB guideline (TPB PG-NO.12B) , as of the Nam Sang Wai Development in this case. Although the development has attempted to demonstrate that the loss in wetland habitats will be mitigated by enhancement of the remaining wetland habitats with the intention of ensuring no net loss of wetland function, considering the massive scale of the development and the loss of area in wetland habitats, WWF is doubtful if the project proponent can full conform to the “no-net-loss” principle.
Incompatible with current conservation standard—the development was approved by the Town Planning Appeal Board in 1994, when conservation was overlooked and the value of fish ponds to wildlife had not been fully studied. However, the ecological importance of the fish pond system in Deep Bay area, supporting the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site of international importance, has been confirmed in recent years. And, at present, the public has demonstrated that they are concern about the land of high conservation and landscape value.
Incompatible with the planning intention under the current Outline Zoning Plan—According to the approved Nam Sang Wai Outline Zoning Plan No.S/YL-NSW/8, the development area is to conserve the ecological value of the fish ponds with form an integral part of the wetland ecosystem in the Deep Bay Area. The proposed development is obviously not supporting such planning intention.
Ecological information of Nam Sang Wai
Great Cormorant roost—the peak count of Great Cormorants roosting at Nam Sang Wai was 5,071 individuals during December 2009. It represents 54% of the Deep Bay wintering population recorded on that date and approximately 5% of the regional population for the species in East Asia.
Egretry—the development site is located within the foraging range of a nearby Egretry, which was the third largest egretry in Hong Kong in 2009.
Eurasian Otter—Eurasian Otter is recorded at Nam Sang Wai, which is a species restricted to the Deep Bay area, especially around less disturbed fish pond. Eurasian Otter is a protected species in Hong Kong under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance. It is a “Near Threatened” species according to the IUCN Red List and a “Vulnerable” species according to the China Red Data Book.
Reedbed —the area of current reedbed habitat in Nam Sang Wai is 39.27 ha, which is one of the largest contiguous reedbed present in Hong Kong.