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沙嶺濕地農地前路「亡亡」?

2018/2/23 — 14:57

上水沙嶺通往羅湖鐵路站的路軌旁邊,有一片鮮為人知的魚塘、濕地和農地,卻具有特別的保育價值。

早於 2010 年完成的邊境禁區土地規劃研究指出,位於沙嶺墳場以南的濕農地及魚塘所記錄的雀鳥種類跟塱原濕地十分相似。當中包括不少依賴濕地、具保育價值及本地分佈局限的物種,譬如本地關注的彩鷸,而 2014 年本會的鳥類紀錄再次確定彩鷸族群的存在。另外也有全球近危的歐亞水獺紀錄。該區連同梧桐河兩旁的魚塘、濕地和農地,是河上鄉鷺鳥林的繁殖鷺鳥主要覓食地,也是連繫塱原及后海灣濕地的重要生態走廊,是國際鳥盟「內后海灣深圳河集水區」重點鳥區 (Important Bird Area) 的一部分。

廣告

發展威脅逐漸入侵

可能由於該區以前位於邊境禁區內,濕地農地得以保存至今。然而隨著邊境禁區開放,發展的威脅陸續出現。現時,沙嶺墳場以南的一片濕地農地在虎地坳及沙嶺分區計劃大綱圖內被劃為「農業」地帶。2014至2015年期間,該區共有三個規劃申請,分別向城市規劃委員會(城規會)申請興建臨時貨物調度場 (A/NE-FTA/151) 、臨時邊境購物中心 (A/NE-FTA/152) ,及臨時上落貨平台 (A/NE-FTA/156) 。本會已向城規會遞交反對意見,各政府部門均表示不支持,原因是未能證明有關發展不會對附近地區的交通、環境及景觀造成負面影響。而城規會最後亦否決該三宗申請,理由主要是申請不符合「農業」地帶的規劃意向,並且會為同類申請立下不良先例。

廣告

政府公佈的《香港 2030+ :跨越 2030 年的規劃遠景與策略》,也提及新界北發展的初步概念。當中包括在沙嶺具保育價值的魚塘、濕地及農地旁邊,規劃 35 公頃的文錦渡物流走廊。事實上,新界農地所面對的發展威脅較其他保育用地更大,非法傾倒泥頭或堆填的情況屢見不鮮,究竟政府如何確保文錦渡的物流發展及其相關活動不會入侵一路之隔的濕地農地呢?

不幸的是違法堆土填塘活動已經發生, 2017 年約有接近兩公頃的荒廢魚塘及棄耕濕農地被填平。規劃署已向相關人士發出強制執行通知書及恢復原狀通知書。然而到了本年初,該填土位置有一項有關農業用途的規劃申請,要求准許填土及填塘作水耕種植場 (A/NE-FTA/182) 。申請人聲稱部分地段已獲北區地政處、環境保護署及漁農自然護理署的同意,於該區進行填土工程及開設水耕種植場。

水耕都是農業用途,為何不可?

本土研究社於 2015 年發表研究報告,表示水耕無論在環保還是投資回報方面表現並不理想。報告引用政府資料指蔬菜統營處作水耕示範的 iVeggie 已虧損近 600 萬元,而其碳排放量亦較常規農場多約 13 倍。本會連同長春社過去十多年與塱原農民推行的生境管理協議計劃,證明農地其實有多重價值。除了有出產糧食的民生及經濟價值外,農地更有生態價值、景觀價值、文化保育價值、教育用途,以及作為城市和郊野之間的緩衝區。離地無土種植的水耕場,根本不應佔用可耕農地。而且受非法傾到廢物及填土破壞的農地很難修復及復耕,亦容易令人借機申請作其他非農業的土地用途。本會認為政府應增加對農地的保護,並加強規管水耕農場的申請及運作。城規會也不應批准水耕農場在預留作農業的土地上作業,以確保農地留作在地耕種用途。

因此,本會反對水耕種植場 (A/NE-FTA/182) 的規劃申請。其位置及周邊環境屬於具保育價值的魚塘、濕地和農地。興建水耕場需要填土填塘,破壞該區的農地、魚塘、水文及生態價值。而且申請地點涉嫌「先破壞,後申請」,若獲批會為同類申請立下不良先例,為該區帶來累計的環境影響。

*大家可以就規劃申請 A/NE-FTA/182 提出意見,截止日期為 2018 年 3 月 6 日(二)。意見可直接電郵至 [email protected] ,或於網上提交

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Any hope for the wetlands and farmlands at Sha Ling?

Perhaps you may not notice when you are on the train heading towards Lo Wu, there are some agricultural lands right next to the railway at Sha Ling in Sheung Shui.  Actually, the fishponds, wetlands and farmlands there are of special conservation importance.

The Feasibility Study of the Land Use Planning for Closed Area completed back in 2010 already stated, the bird community of the wet agriculture and fishpond area south of Sandy Ridge cemetery is very similar to that of Long Valley. A number of wetland-dependent, conservation-significant and locally range-restricted species were recorded, including the Greater Painted-snipe of local concern, which the Society’s 2014 bird record also reconfirmed its presence in the area. Besides, the globally near threatened Eurasian Otter was recorded as well. The area together with the fishponds, wetlands and farmlands along the Ng Tung River is an important foraging area for the breeding ardeids at the Ho Sheung Heung egretry. It also acts as an important ecological corridor in connecting Long Valley and the Deep Bay wetland ecosystem, and forms part of the “Inner Deep Bay and Shenzhen River catchment” Important Bird Area recognized by BirdLife International.

Imminent development pressure

The wetland and farmlands in the area can be preserved, probably because it was located within the restricted Frontier Closed Area (FCA). However, the development pressure gradually increases as the FCA opens up. The wetlands and farmlands south of Sandy Ridge cemetery is currently zoned as “Agriculture” (AGR) under the Fu Tei Au and Sha Ling Outline Zoning Plan. During 2014 and 2015, the Town Planning Board (TPB) received 3 planning applications for temporary goods reshuffling yards (A/NE-FTA/151), temporary frontier shopping centre (A/NE-FTA/152), and temporary unloading/loading platforms (A/NE-FTA/156) respectively. The Society submitted our objections to TPB. Various Government departments did not support the application as the applicant failed to demonstrate the proposed development would have no adverse traffic, environmental and landscape impacts on the surroundings. TPB eventually rejected the three planning application as it was not in line with the planning intention of the AGR zone and approval would set undesirable precedent for similar applications.

The preliminary concepts for the New Territories North Development was mentioned in the “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a planning vision and strategy transcending 2030” announced by the Government. In the strategic plan, a 35-hectare Man Kam To Logistic corridor was proposed right next to the fishponds, wetlands and farmlands of conservation concern in Sha Ling. However, illegal dumping and filling is commonly seen at the agricultural lands in the New Territories, and the development threat faced by farmlands is much greater than that of other conservation zonings. So how could the Government ensure the proposed logistic development and related activities will not encroach into the wetlands and farmlands of conservation concern just across the road?

Unfortunately, illegal land and pond filling already occurred. Approximately 2 hectares of abandoned fishponds and fallow farmlands were being filled in 2017. Planning Department investigated and issued Enforcement Notices and Reinstatement Notices. Yet early this year, a planning application related to agriculture use at the filled area was submitted to TPB, requesting for permission to fill land and pond for the proposed hydroponic farm. The applicant claimed that part of the site already obtained approval from District Lands Office (North), Environmental Protection Department and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for the land filling works and the hydroponic farm.

Hydroponic is an agriculture use. What’s wrong?

The Society and the Conservancy Association has been carrying out habitat management agreement scheme with the farmers in Long Valley for more than 10 years, which demonstrates the multiple values of agricultural land. Apart from the social and economic value of food production, farmlands also has ecological value, landscape value, cultural value, educational value, and buffering effect between urban areas and countryside. On the other hand, a report published by the Liber Research Community in 2015 stated that the performance of hydroponic farm is unsatisfactory, both in terms of environmental protection and return on investment. It quoted information from the Government saying that the operation of iVeggie, a hydroponic demonstration unit by the Vegetable Marketing Organization, already loss 6 million Hong Kong dollars, while its carbon emission is about 13 times higher than that of conventional farms. Hydroponic farms, which does not require soil cultivation, should not occupy arable farmland. Moreover, farmlands destroyed by illegal dumping and filling is difficult to reinstate and rehabilitate for farming, giving people an excuse to apply for other non-agriculture related land use. The Society considers that the Government should strengthen the protection of farmlands, and strictly regulate the application and operation of hydroponic farms. TPB should also reject applications for hydroponic farm on land reserved for agriculture use, so as to ensure farmlands can be preserved for cultivation.

Therefore, the Society objects to the hydroponic farm planning application (A/NE-FTA/182). The application site and its surroundings are fishponds, wetlands and farmlands of conservation importance. The land and pond filling as required by the proposed hydroponic farm would destroy the farmlands, fishponds, hydrology and ecological value in the area. In addition, the site is suspected to be “destroy first, apply later”. The approval of this application would set an undesirable precedent for similar applications, leading to adverse cumulative impacts on the environment in the area.

*Feel free to submit your comments and concerns on the planning application A/NE-FTA/182. Deadline for comments is 6 March 2018 (Tue). It can be directly email to [email protected], or can be submitted online.

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