The deadline of the public consultation for the Nam Sang Wai development project is today (24 July), we hope that you can send your comments to the Town Planning Board (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) to protect Nam Sang Wai!
Nam Sang Wai has various wetland habitats, including reedbeds, wet grasslands, active and abandoned fishponds, providing roosting and foraging ground for a wide range of birds. Some reedbed associated birds of conservation concern were recorded in Nam Sang Wai, such as Purple Heron, Yellow Bittern, Eurasian Bittern, Eastern Marsh Harrier and Chinese Penduline Tit. In addition, 90 Globally Endangered Black-faced Spoonbills were recorded in a drained fishpond in Nam Sang Wai. Nam Sang Wai has a high ecological value due to its diverse wetland habitats and site of such ecological sensitivity should not be developed.
Nam Sang Wai is an important night roosting site for Great Cormorant. HKBWS recorded 4,360 Great Cormorants roosting in Nam Sang Wai in Feb 2014, which account for half of the Deep Bay population. The proposed high-rise residential towers would cause light pollution to the surroundings, and adversely affecting the night roost of Great Cormorant.
The “no-net-loss in wetland” suggested by the developers only considers the ‘water area’. This calculation method neglects the wetland ecological function of pond bunds. In fact, the proposed development would lead to a net loss of 10.4 ha of wetland, and is not in line with the principle of “no-net-loss in wetland” in the Deep Bay area.
Although the development footprint has reduced by 70% when compared with the previous application, the gross floor area remains the same. Residential towers increased to 29 blocks, with 19 to 25 storeys high. The total number of residential units also increased by 60%, leading to a rise in planned population from 4,480 to 6,500, thus causing adverse impacts on the ecology and landscape of Nam Sang Wai.
In order to compensate the loss of reedbed caused by the proposed development, the developer proposed to recreate reedbed in the fishponds at Nam Sang Wai; regarding the further loss in fishponds, the corresponding loss in ‘water area’ will be compensated in Lut Chau. These mitigation measures are considered as ineffective in compensating the wetland loss. Moreover, the reduction of fishpond area in Nam San Wai may have adverse impact on the Globally Vulnerable Eurasian Otter, which was recorded in Nam Sang Wai.
A new bridge will be built across Shan Pui River, connecting Nam Sang Wai and the Yuen Long Industrial Estate for the convenience of residents and visitors to assess Nam Sang Wai. However, such an important component of the development is not included within the application site boundary. The ecological impacts of the proposed bridge during construction and operational phase were not adequately assessed, including the impacts on the waterbirds foraging in Shan Pui River.
Within 500m boundary of Nam Sang Wai, there are also several planning applications for proposed large scale residential developments, hotels and shopping malls, including the recently approve Fung Lok Wai project. These developments, including the current application, would have adverse cumulative impact on the ecological integrity of the Deep Bay area.
The Convention on Biological Diversity has extended to Hong Kong in 2011. Under the spirit of the Convention, Nam Sang Wai and Lut Chau, which are of high ecological and conservation value, should be well-protected and properly managed. Besides the proposals by developers, the Government should also consider that alternatives, such as transferring the development right of land owners to places of low ecological value outside the Deep Bay area, and establishing a trust for the management of Nam Sang Wai and Lut Chau.