Hong Kong environmental issues
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The project aims to develop an innovation hub near Hong Kong’s border with mainland China. Photo: Dickson Lee

Greater Bay Area green groups warn Hong Kong technopole project will damage wetlands

  • Guangzhou-based green group also says ecological impact of building San Tin Technopole goes against national conservation policies
Vivian Au

Environmental groups in the Greater Bay Area have opposed plans to build a technology hub near Hong Kong’s border with mainland China, warning the project will erase a wetland buffer area and undermine national conservation principles.

Jim Luk of the Guangzhou-based CrossBorder Environment Concern Association expressed concerns on Wednesday that “the development of San Tin Technopole might affect the flying route of the migratory birds, as it is very near to the ecological red line in Shenzhen”.

Luk was referring to an ecologically sensitive zone near Hong Kong’s Mai Po mangroves and its surrounding area.

The proposed site for the technopole takes up more than 600 hectares (1,483 acres) of land, with half of the site earmarked as a hub intended to lure leading innovation and technology companies to the city.

The project is already expected to fill in 90 hectares of fish ponds and rezoning of land that acts as a buffer between wetlands and developed areas.

Luk said the plan could threaten the bay area’s largest coastal wetland ecosystem.

Central authorities had formulated various policies and laws in recent years to protect ecological areas, including the countrywide Wetland Protection Law in 2022, he said.

The conservationist said central authorities had recently published a paper on plans to protect and restore flyways for migratory birds.

Greenpeace Hong Kong said that Shenzhen, in accordance with such policies, had dialed back plans to develop 123 hectares of Tong Lang Shan Country Park as part of efforts to build the Xili railway station.

Chan Hall-sion, a senior campaigner with the green group, said the technopole project disregarded national ecological conservation priorities, with Hong Kong falling behind other bay area cities in terms of environmental awareness.

The technopole is part of the Northern Metropolis mega project, which aims to turn 30,000 hectares in the New Territories into a housing and economic powerhouse.

The project was among those that underwent the government’s streamlined town planning procedures. The overhauled process seeks to cut the time needed for rezoning from 11 months to just seven.

More than 1,200 Hong Kong private individuals and groups have opposed the plan, with the Town Planning Board set to hear from them on Friday.

The Development Bureau said local authorities had already spoken with the relevant government departments across the border.

It added that the relevant portion of technopole project would not overlap with the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site, and mitigation measures would preserve its ecological characteristics.