Residents of Sha Tau Kok angered at the Planning Department’s proposal to list the area as a conservation site are blocking the paths leading to the villages of Fung Hang and Kuk Po for a week starting Sunday.
Around 50 villagers, led by Sha Tau Kok District Rural Committee’s Lee Koon-hung and Tsang Yuk-on, held placards and marched to Fung Hang and Kuk Po at 10am on Sunday, Apple Daily reported.
They also erected fences at a hiking trail leading to Fung Hang and put up a notice saying that they were blocking the entrance to the village for seven days to protest “unreasonable regulatory arrangements” by the Planning Department.
Many visitors who had been planning to hike the trails were forced to turn back as a result of the protests and blockade.
The Planning Department put forward the Outline Zoning Plan for the villages of Fung Hang, Kuk Po and Yung Shue Au in February. Public consultation on the draft plan has been concluded and it would be handed over to the Town Planning Board for discussion, DBC radio reported.
However, the head of Kuk Po village said that the land listed in the conservation plans was private land belonging to the villagers and that it had been expropriated, Stand News reported. He said that although the farmland was derelict, listing it for conservation would mean that there would be many constraints should villagers wish to use the land for agriculture or development purposes.
Villagers were also unhappy with the size of the proposed conservation area – which stretches for 23 hectares – and the fact that the government has yet to make promises of compensation.
The blockade will end next Sunday and villagers will meet with rural group Heung Yee Kuk in June to discuss what steps to take next; if the government failed to respond, protesters would consider coordinating with other villages to organise a mass blockade.
The Planning Department told Apple Daily that they were in the midst of going through the representations and that a hearing would be held after a three-week public engagement exercise. It also stressed the importance of the ecological value of the area and said it would allocate suitable areas as “village-type development” sites to meet the demands for development under the Small House policy.
Earlier, Sha Tau Kok villagers were also accused of chopping down hundreds of trees in the village and the neighbouring village of Fung Hang to protest the same conservation plans.