Development and conservation of Lok Ma Chau Loop
In recent years, the Government has introduced various policies to support the innovation and technology industry, one of which is the development of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (the Park) at the Lok Ma Chau Loop (the Loop). The infrastructure works of the Loop are undertaken by the Development Bureau and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD). The Under Secretary for Development, Mr LIU Chun-san, and the Political Assistant to the Secretary for Development, Mr FUNG Ying-lun, Allen, went to the Loop earlier with two secondary school students who had participated in the “Be a Government Official for a Day” programme. They were briefed by the colleagues of the CEDD on the works progress and how the natural environment could be conserved while development takes place.
The Advance Works of the Loop commenced in June last year. The first batch of land is expected to be available by 2021 for the development of buildings and associated facilities for Phase 1 of the Park. The Advance Works mainly include the establishment of an Ecological Area (EA) within the Loop, the construction of a temporary access to the Loop and the erection of temporary noise barriers along Lok Ma Chau Road.
Balancing development and conservation
On the day of the visit, everyone listened to the development plans for the Loop presented by the CEDD colleagues while overlooking the Loop. The ground treatment works of the Advance Works of the Loop are progressing at full steam to enable the provision of the first batch of land. According to Chief Engineer of the West Development Office of the CEDD, Ms LIU Tze-kwan, Fiona, one of the key features of the project is to strike a balance between development and conservation. In order to reduce the ecological impact during the construction and operation stages of the Loop development, the CEDD has implemented a series of ecological mitigation measures, including the establishment of an EA (pictured) under the Advance Works.
Establishment of an EA of about 12.8 hectares
An EA with an area of about 12.8 hectares (ha) will be established in the southeastern part of the 87-ha Loop to conserve or compensate for habitats of high conservation value, such as the reed marsh in the Loop and the existing flight line corridor of birds. To give full play to its functions and value, the EA will be linked with the old Shenzhen (SZ) River meander and the fishponds to form a continuous wetland.
Attracting animals to settle and breed
The EA will be divided into four reed cells and one freshwater marsh cell for planting mainly of reeds and some aquatic plants. Native plants will be planted on the embankment slopes of the cells to conserve the existing ecology. A small island in the freshwater marsh cell will provide a variety of habitats with a view to attracting animals like birds and Eurasian otters to settle and breed there.
Apart from its conservation function, the EA will also serve as flood storage in times of heavy rain. It can collect and store rainwater to attenuate the peak run-off due to the development of the Loop. Also, impacts on the old SZ River meander and the downstream drainage system can be alleviated.
A project with many challenges
Regarding the challenges besetting the project, there have been many in the course of the Advance Works according to Ms Fiona LIU. For instance, construction works pose greater difficulty in the wet season. However, to reduce the impacts of the works on birds, the project team has to suspend their works along the old SZ River meander outside the rainy season (from November to the following February every year) when migratory birds come to Hong Kong to spend their winter. When the rainy season arrives, the project team then has to carry out the works as quickly as possible. In addition, without an external access to areas outside the Loop, there have been certain challenges in the transportation of materials, equipment and machines. Project staff have to construct a temporary access to the Loop, including an approximately 60-metre-long temporary vehicular bridge across the old SZ River meander, as part of the Advance Works.
Advance Works in good progress
At present, the Advance Works have been making good progress and we are on track to meet the target of making available the first batch of land by 2021. Here, I would like to thank in particular the project team for their professionalism and dedication. While the Park is being developed, wetlands and green areas of the Loop and the surrounding are being conserved to maintain the ecology and biodiversity.
11 August, 2019