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Advisory Council on the Environment

South West New Territories Development Strategy Review - Draft Recommended Strategy

 

ACE Paper 37/99
For discussion

PURPOSE

This paper is to seek Members' views on the Draft Recommended Strategy (the Strategy) for the South West New Territories Development Strategy Review (SWNT DSR).

BACKGROUND

2.SWNT is one of the five planning sub-regions of the Territory. In 1993, an Interim Recommended Strategy (IRS) was formulated to provide interim guidance for district planning and processing of development proposals for the sub-region, pending completion of the Territorial Development Strategy Review (TDSR) being conducted at that time.

3.Based on the 1993 IRS and the recommendations of the TDSR approved in 1998 as well as various on-going development studies relating to the sub-region, the Strategy has now been prepared. It aims to provide a comprehensive planning framework to guide the future development of the sub-region, highlighting the strategic role and functions of respective sub-areas and defining the scope of strategic development that could take place up to 2011, and possibly beyond. The Strategy is now released for public consultation. A copy of the Consultation Digest is at Appendix 1. (Please refer to http://www.info.gov.hk/planning/index.htm)

MAJOR FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

>Key Issues

4.Transport Infrastructure

Development in SWNT is hinged on the transport capacity of existing and planned external links (Figure 2 of Appendix 1). Except Lantau, all outlying islands have to rely on ferry and "kaito" services for external transport. Provision of additional external links in Lantau would improve the accessibility of the Island, particularly North and Northeast Lantau. Provision of internal road links, however, needs to be considered in the context of environmental constraints, traffic demand, engineering feasibility and local aspirations. The existing Closed Road Permit System in South Lantau could help to safeguard the countryside and coastal areas as resources for recreation.

5.Conservation and Landscape

There are a great diversity and abundance of terrestrial and marine flora and fauna in the sub-region, some of which are of territory-wide significance. Sites of archaeological and historical interests are found in a number of places in Lantau, Ma Wan, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Soko Islands and Po Toi Islands. Sites with high ecological value should be conserved as far as possible. In identifying areas for developments in this sub-region, areas with conservation attributes should be avoided. Also special regard should be given to the unique and fragile natural environment and to ensure that no adverse impact would be caused.

6.Economic Development

With a variety of undisturbed natural landscape, countryside character, extensive coastline and religious/cultural artefacts, SWNT offers unique opportunity for both active and passive recreation/tourism development. The airport and the possible theme park and related tourism developments in North Lantau will provide further opportunities for economic development in the sub-region. Major urban developments should be carefully planned to avoid adverse impacts on the existing natural environment in the sub-region.

7.Population Distribution

Being constrained by the existing and planned transport infrastructure provision, modest growth will continue to cluster at existing rural towns while the main population growth will concentrate in areas served by major transport infrastructure in the North Lantau New Town including Tung Chung and Tai Ho.

Draft Recommended Strategy (Figure 4 of Appendix 1)

8.The planning vision for the SWNT sub-region is:

"to promote sustainable development in the SWNT by balancing development and conversation needs, with particular emphasis on turning the sub-region into a Tourist, Recreation and Leisure Centre by:

  • strengthening tourist attractions;
  • achieving conservation of the high quality environment; and
  • fulfilling a diversity of recreation and leisure needs."

9.The major planning principles as set out in the Strategy are to:

  1. capitalise on the tourist and recreation opportunities;
  2. conserve the high quality natural environment;
  3. accommodate an appropriate share of the territory's strategic population growth; and
  4. promote the economic development of the territory.

10.Major Proposals

Conservation and Landscape

10.1The Strategy acknowledges the importance of conserving the high quality landscape and environment of the sub-region. About 55% of land (11,480 ha) in the sub-region is designated as Country Parks and possible extension areas. Apart from areas allowed for expansion of recognised villages and small scale recreational developments, rural areas outside the identified development areas are largely earmarked as Conservation Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interests (SSSIs). Coastal waters off Southwest Lantau and South Lamma are identified as potential Marine Parks/Reserves.

10.2The Strategy also proposes the coastal waters of Po Toi Islands, Soko Islands, South Lamma and Southeast Lantau Coast as Inshore Water Protection/Recreation Areas. While protection is of primary importance, these coastal waters may be used for sustainable water-based recreation activities.

10.3There are a number of ecologically important/sensitive sites in SWNT including mangroves, freshwater wetland, habitats of Romer's Tree Frogs, fresh water fishes and nesting sites for green turtle, many of them are located within the SSSIs, existing or potential Country Parks, potential Marine Parks/Reserves and Conservation Areas as designated in the Strategy. For other areas of ecological importance/interest identified in the future, appropriate landuse protection would be considered.

Tourism and Recreation

10.4Tourism and recreation development will continue to be the main economic thrust of the sub-region. At Penny's Bay in Northeast Lantau, an area has been designated for the development of an international theme park with supporting rail and road infrastructure. Sufficient area is also reserved in the north shore of Northeast Lantau for the MTR Yam O Station and other possible compatible tourism and recreation uses. Some other areas in Northwest Lantau, South Lantau and Soko Islands also have potential for recreation and tourism developments to serve a wider community.

Urban Development

10.5The Strategy allows for a total population of some 490,000 by 2011, as against the current population of less than 100,000 in the sub-region. A maximum of some 335,000 population (about 70% of the whole sub-region) is intended to be accommodated in the North Lantau New Town, subject to on-going planning and engineering studies. The development ceiling is capped by the planned capacities of the external transport links identified in various on-going planning and engineering feasibility studies. Mui Wo is identified as having potential to accommodate modest growth to tie in with the possible road link to connect Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo. There may also be potential to develop South Lantau for sustainable recreational uses. However, the nature and optimum scale of the future developments within the area will have to be further investigated by more detailed planning and engineering feasibility study. For other rural towns and existing developments including Discovery Bay, Tai O, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau, Lamma and Ma Wan, the Strategy will allow an appropriate level of growth taking into account the local environment, traffic and infrastructure capacity.

10.6The new airport at Chek Lap Kok has provided great opportunities for economic development in SWNT. Its related commercial activities and services will continue to contribute employment opportunities to the sub-region. Two proposed container terminal sites at Kau Yi Chau are retained in the Strategy until the feasibility for container terminal development in other parts of the Territory has been confirmed (Figure 4 of Appendix 1).

Transport Infrastructure

10.7On top of the existing transport infrastructure, implementation of the proposals in the Strategy requires completion of the planned Route 10 - North Lantau to Yuen Long Highway by 2011. For rail services, the proposed extension of Tung Chung Line to Tung Chung West to serve the western part of the new town is under investigation. New transport infrastructures will be required for the Airport upon its full development beyond 2011, and these may include the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link and the Outer Western Corridor Rail Link (Figure 2 of Appendix 1).

10.8In addition to the major existing links and the tunnel link between Discovery Bay and Siu Ho Wan which is now near completion, the Strategy comprises the following local road proposals on Lantau:

  1. an enhanced primary distributor running along North Lantau from Tung Chung to Penny's Bay;
  2. a north-south road link between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo, which is mainly intended to relieve Tung Chung Road; and
  3. cable car connection from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping.

Environmental and Utilities Infrastructure

10.9To maintain a high quality environment, all major infrastructure and development projects must be subject to comprehensive environmental impact assessments (EIA). The Strategy also recommends early implementation of a comprehensive sewerage system to serve the sub-region. The feasibility of developing part of the Lamma Quarry site for strategic sewage treatment facilities is also being investigated for the purpose. The investigations include a detailed EIA.

Further Actions

11Five Action Areas have been identified in the Strategy, which are required to be further examined to ascertain the appropriate forms and scale of future development. These include Northeast Lantau, Tai O, Ngong Ping, Mui Wo and South Lantau, and Lamma Island. Amongst them, studies on Northeast Lantau, Tai O, Ngong Ping and Lamma Island are already in progress.

12To carry forward the proposals in the Strategy, a series of further actions including undertaking of further detailed studies, preparation of town plans, formulation of development packages, and provision of additional infrastructure and supportive facilities that need to be instigated by relevant departments, are suggested in para. 7.1 of Appendix 1.

WAY FORWARD

13The Draft Recommended Strategy is now under public consultation. Apart from the Advisory Council on the Environment, we have/will consult other statutory/advisory bodies including the relevant Provisional District Boards, Town Planning Board, and Country and Marine Parks Board. A Public Forum to solicit views from members of the public was held on 14 September 1999. Concerned/interested parties and local communities have been invited to attend. The public consultation exercise will take about 2 months to complete. The views collected will then be analysed and incorporated, where appropriate, in the Final Recommended Strategy. It is intended that the Final Recommended Strategy can be formulated by the end of this year.

ADVICE SOUGHT

14Members are invited to express their views on the Strategy at Appendix 1 and summarised in paras. 4 to 12 above.



Planning Department
September 1999


 
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