Government's response on Tai Po Lung Mei Beach works project
Government representatives (from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Civil Engineering and Development Department, Architectural Services Department, Drainage Services Department (DSD), Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Home Affairs Department and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) and Tai Po District Council (DC) representatives today (October 8) met with environmental concern groups on the Tai Po Lung Mei Beach works project. A Government spokesman gave the following reply in response to media enquiries after the meeting:
The Lung Mei Beach works project was launched in response to the recommendation of the Tai Po DC and to meet the needs of local residents. Since 2005, the Government had consulted the Tai Po DC, the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) and environmental concern groups during different stages of the project. The Government had also carried out a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment of the project and the project was issued with an Environmental Permit by the EPD in 2010. In 2012, the Government consulted the Legislative Council's Panel on Home Affairs and the Public Works Subcommittee and a funding approval was obtained from the Finance Committee in July the same year.
Regarding the project, the construction works consists of a 200-metre-long bathing beach with a groyne at each end, a shark prevention net, a public car park, retaining walls as well as associated road works, drainage and sewerage works and waterworks. The anticipated usage rate of the beach during peak swimming season is 4,000 persons per day.
The Government attaches great importance to the ecological impact of the construction works. As such, the Government had conducted ecological surveys as recommended by the ACE and revised the beach design by reducing the reclamation area. Mitigation measures will be taken during the implementation of the project to minimise the adverse effect that the construction works may cause to the marine environment in the area. In addition, relevant departments will also conduct surveillance and assessment in the peripheral areas during and after the implementation of the project.
With regards the mitigation measures, before conducting the sand filling process, relevant works departments will carefully remove the rocks and other objects in the intertidal zone where living species can live on. At this stage, most of the fish species in water will migrate to new habitats. For those species that are less movable, the departments will, where necessary, capture those species and relocate them along with the other three fish species of conservation importance to other suitable reception sites.
As to the water quality, the DSD is building a new sewerage network in Lo Tsz Tin, Lung Mei, Wong Chuk Tsuen and Tai Mei Tuk to collect sewage at these villages and deliver it to the Tai Po Sewage Treatment Works for treatment before discharge. The new sewerage system will be completed in 2013 and relevant drainage diversion works is in satisfactory progress. It is anticipated that after the completion of the above sewerage and drainage works, the water quality in the vicinity of the Lung Mei Beach will be improved in the coming years and will comply with the water quality standards required for beaches.
On the recommendation for building an ecological swimming pool in place of a bathing beach, the Government's preliminary view is that given the paramount consideration to retain the existing Lung Mei coastline as suggested by the environmental concern groups, the land available for the suggested development is not adequate for the development of a sizable public swimming pool and its transportation and ancillary facilities.
Currently, the Tai Po area is served only by the Tai Po Swimming Pool. There is no public beach swimming facility in the area and the adjacent North District area. The nearest public beach is Silverstrand Beach at Sai Kung, which is about 17 kilometres from Tai Po. For this, the local community is very supportive of the Lung Mei Beach works project and looks forward to the early materialisation of the project to meet local demand for a public beach swimming facility.
Lung Mei Beach works project has gone through years of planning as well as consultations. The project had been scrutinised and approved in accordance with the statutory procedures by the ACE, Town Planning Board and Legislative Council on various aspects of the project including ecological environment, transportation, town planning and funding. The Government had also made a number of revisions to the project and put in place mitigation measures to address various concerns. Besides, the project also received overwhelming support from the local community and the Tai Po DC. Relevant departments are inviting tenders for the project now in accordance with the project plan submitted to the Legislative Council.
Ends/Monday, October 8, 2012