Subject: 支持農業發展 聯署「農業界反對土地大辯論動用農地選項」 [Print This Page] Author: HKBWS Suet Mei Time: 6/09/2018 10:14 Subject: 支持農業發展 聯署「農業界反對土地大辯論動用農地選項」
“The Agricultural Sector’s Opposition to Including Agricultural Land as a Land Supply Option”
Joint Statement and Petition
Hands off until the New Agricultural Policy is implemented!
>>The Society has co-sign the joint statement as an agriculture concerned group
The Government’s consultation on land supply options is still in progress. However, the Government and certain members of society are already focusing on the options of reclamation, and of using agricultural land held by developers. From developers’ annual reports, the Government believes that they now hold over 1,000 hectares of agricultural land - but reached this conclusion without considering crucial factors such as farmers, the plots’ location, suitability for growing, ecological value, size, and surrounding environment. In addition, the Government has not assessed the potential impact to the agricultural sector. The fact that the Government has hastily proposed public-private partnership in these circumstances not only raises suspicion of Government-business collusion, but also implies that local agriculture will again be sacrificed, severely impacting the livelihoods and development of Hong Kong’s 2,400 farms. Thanks to the hard work of the agricultural sector, in recent years the organic movement has gained steam and consumers who support local production have increased. However, this consultation may well lay all this to waste by triggering further devolution of farmland into brownfields, and aggravated hoarding of agricultural land. This makes the state of remaining farmland even more precarious, make it more difficult for farmers to find arable land, and as a result freeze out local agriculture.
【Failure to date to implement the New Agricultural Policy and Agricultural Priority Areas】
Our two most recent Chief Executives both mentioned the New Agricultural Policy in their past three Policy Addresses, including proposals to establish an Agri-Park and to designate Agricultural Priority Areas. These measures rightly acknowledge that development of agriculture must be premised upon protection of farmland. Even so, the invitation for tenders to conduct the consultancy study for Agricultural Priority Areas only took place this June. Further, the Government estimates that the consultancy study will take years to complete. This will be far later than the result of the land supply consultation. This raises suspicions about the Government’s will to carry out the New Agricultural Policy - in effect, the Government may mobilize as yet unprotected agricultural land to fulfil its search for land supply, and then only designate the remaining for agricultural priority. The Government has opted not to control damage to agricultural land or its conversion to brownfields - on the contrary, it has proposed public-private partnership and the use of tax dollars to assist developers in building basic infrastructure. This makes it easier to remove development restrictions on agricultural land, and reflects a severe slant in the favour of developers. If the Government adopts this land supply option, this will accelerate damage to agricultural land and development of sustainable agriculture as envisioned in the New Agricultural Policy will be little more than fantasy.
【Joint Statement of the Agricultural Sector】
The agricultural sector opposes the Government’s proposal to use agricultural land without first having policies and measures in place to prevent further damage to farmland. We make the following joint statement:-
1. Farmland and agriculture carry value that is irreplaceable by other industries. We ask that the Agricultural Priority Area consultancy study be issued before the land supply consultation report.
As stated in the Government’s Policy Address 2016: “The value of agriculture goes beyond its economic contribution. Developing local agriculture not only increases choices in terms of origin of food, it also helps optimise land use, improve the environment and hygiene in rural areas, and conserve the natural ecology.” Ecosystem services generated by farmland and agriculture cannot be replaced by other sectors, and far exceeds the development framework contemplated in the land supply consultation. To protect farmland and allow the sustainable development of agriculture is the duty of all citizens on this earth. The Agricultural Priority Area consultancy study ought to be issued before the land supply consultation report.
2. Establish a policy to conserve farmland and prevent malicious damage to land:
(i) Reform the Town Planning Ordinance, regulate “agricultural land for agricultural use”, authorize the Planning Department to make “Development Permission Area Plans” for rural areas, including areas currently covered by “Outline Zoning Plans”, such that the Planning Department may enforce laws in rural areas;
(ii) Amend the Waste Disposal Ordinance, such that permission is required before any disposal of construction waste on private or Government land. In granting permission, the relevant authority is to consider conservation of the environment;
(iii) Establish a cross-department law enforcement task force to protect the natural environment (including the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the Environmental Protection Department, the Lands Department, the Planning Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department), increase resources and headcount for each of the law enforcement units in these departments, cooperate to control all instances of unlawful development and ensure that damaged locations can recover.
3. Support the rehabilitation of farmland
As of the end of 2017, there were about 300 applicants in line under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s Agricultural Land Rehabilitation Scheme. On average, it takes 5 years for an applicant to be matched to arable land - despite the fact that Hong Kong boasts 4,400 hectares of agricultural land. This is because apart from 700 hectares which are presently being cultivated, most farmland has been hoarded and left unused by developers while they wait for the opportunity to develop it. We suggest establishing a tax for vacant land, providing financial support to eco-friendly farming practices, providing subsidies for farmland rehabilitation, resuming farmland for agriculture, etc., to reduce hoarding of farmland.
4. Revamp the planning regime for brownfields
At present, “brownfields” cover multiple land uses, including farmland, open storage, green belts, etc. It is likely that a fair amount of agricultural land overlaps with brownfields. The Government needs to freeze and register brownfields, prevent further conversion of farmland into brownfields, increase the penalties on conversion of farmland to brownfields, and adopt “arability” as the standard for law enforcement and rehabilitation. Further, we demand the rehabilitation of farmland and a revamp of planning for brownfields. Any development should require approval upon a consideration of the location and relevant details.
5. Adopt other land supply options in place of building on agricultural land
Hong Kong’s housing issue is not one of supply but of distribution. Further, there are other land supply options apart from developing agricultural land. The ratio of the supply of public to private housing is much lower than the 6:4 target ratio set by the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee. Hence, the type of housing supplied does not meet the demand of grassroots citizens. According to the Housing Authority’s estimates in the “Long Term Housing Strategy” and "Hong Kong 2030+ : Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030", until 2026 the Government only needs a further 108 hectares of land to fulfill housing demands. The Government should accelerate adoption of the below land options and present appropriate policies to fulfil the immediate housing need.
- 172 hectares at Fanling Golf Course. Even under the partial development proposal made by the Planning Department, 32 hectares would be made available;
- 30 hectares above Siu Ho Wan depot (estimated to have a capacity for 14,000 public housing units);
- Use of land subject to urban renewal for building public housing;
- Use of vacant Government land and school campuses for transitional housing;
- Reduce sale of land for private residential development, and increase construction of public housing.
【發起機構 】(依筆劃序) (in stroke order)
香港有機生活社 Hong Kong Organic Association
Sustainable Ecological Ethical Development Foundation (SEED)
綠田園基金 Produce Green Foundation