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The Standard: Environmental groups raised their objections to the Town Planning Board on Tuesday against filling the fishponds in San Tin for the technopole project.

Ahead of the board’s second meeting to review the revised draft for San Tin Technopole development plan on Tuesday, several environmental groups gathered at the board’s office in North Point to object to the proposed project – lauded to support Hong Kong in becoming an international innovation and technology (I&T) center.

The technopole near the mainland border is set to be part of the massive government-initiated Northern Metropolis project.

Representatives of the green groups signed petitions and submitted joint letters today, urging authorities to not approve the reclamation plan.

Amongst those that wrote the joint letter were The Conservancy Association, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Greenpeace, and Hong Kong 2050.

Citing the adverse ecological implications, ten green groups criticized the reclamation plan. They argued that it could possibly breach China’s conservation policies and pleaded with authorities to reconsider if there was truly a need to occupy 150 hectares of wetlands conservation area for the sake of building an I&T hub.

Wong Suet-mei, senior conservation officer of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, questioned the credibility of the recently-approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which the project has heavily relied on for its backing.

Wong called it “the worst wetland development EIA report we’ve seen in the past 30 years of conservation policy.”

The green groups earlier stated that the San Tin Technopole development will cover a total area of 600 hectares, derived from 151 hectares of designated wetland conservation area, 97 hectares of wetland buffer area, as well as the reclamation and draining of an additional 90 hectares of existing fishponds.

Critics argue that the land use plans for the I&T-focused San Tin Technopole should be subject to a thorough ecological impact assessment, in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance, before proceeding with development that could significantly impact sensitive wetland habitats.

In May, the Environmental Protection Department hit back at green groups over criticisms of its approval of the EIA report, stressing it was conducted in a scientific and professional manner and met all legal requirements and standards.

This came after the department approved the EIA report with conditions in May.

 

Originally published on The Standard on 2 July 2024.

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