Tong Fuk has become the latest Lantau village to suffer from unauthorised land clearance, a result of the vague planning laws and lack of enforcement that have plagued the rest of the island.
In the last three years, reclamation work has claimed hundreds of square metres of greenbelt between Tong Fuk village and the oceanfront, HK01 has reported.
The original work created a car park but has continued well into the adjacent green space, a cattle habitat and recreation area that also hosts the annual poon choi banquet.
The reclamation intrudes onto government land but the developers have ignored Lands Department warnings to halt work.
As with the rapidly-disappearing Pui O wetland, the entire zone between South Lantau Road and the beachfront is designated Coastal Protection Area (CPA) – but no planning or environmental laws exist to provide any actual protection.
Local conservation group Save Lantau Alliance wrote to the Sustainable Lantau Office and other departments about the unauthorised development, HK01 reported.
The Planning Department confirmed that the site is zoned CPA, which means any land filling or development work requires permission from the Town Planning Board (TPB). It said no development application for a car park or landfill had been received.
But planning agencies exercise their powers through the development approval process, which has never covered Tong Fuk or other villages on South Lantau Road, so they have no power to influence or stop any development.
As the Planning Dept said: “There is no regulatory authority there.”
The private-held portion of land belongs to a Mui Wo-registered company called Yuky Co. Ltd (耀崎有限公司), according to HK01.
A 1980s court case involving the late Heung Yee Kuk strongman Lau Wongfat found that the government cannot enforce planning laws on privately-held agricultural land.