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one of Mott MacDonald's environmental team taking measurements in the wetland area

Wo Shang Wai wetland enhancement, Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, where development land is at a premium, developers need to identify practical and innovative solutions to satisfy land development conditions. Wo Shang Wai development in the New Territories of Hong Kong is close to a RAMSAR site (the most northerly mangrove community in the world and frequented by endangered species Black-faced Spoonbill and Egrets).

We worked proactively with the developer to ensure that potential areas for disruption were identified and appropriate management controls were in place.

The development site was zoned as 'Other Specified Uses - Comprehensive Development to include Wetland Restoration Area'. The scheme needed to satisfy two uses: residential development and its associated infrastructure; and wetland restoration.

The statutory planning intent is to provide an incentive for the restoration of degraded land through comprehensive residential and/or recreational development to include a wetland restoration area. Sound ecological design principles must be incorporated into development of the wetland restoration area. It is also the planning intent to encourage removal of existing sporadic open storage uses that have created degraded land in the area.

Mott MacDonald was appointed to deliver services including environmental impact assessment (EIA), environmental review, contaminated land assessment, and noise barrier design.

Key facts

An earlier approved EIA was completed in 2007. We were appointed to review and revise the EIA and the EM&A Manual for approval by the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong. The variations to the environmental permit were based on a revised master layout plan.

Challenges

The proximity of the RAMSAR site meant any proposal was viewed against potential impact on the RAMSAR site. Sound design principles must be shown to have been applied in the design of the wetland restoration area.

The site has been degraded by historic land use and land decontamination works were required before the wetland restoration area could be developed.

In order to provide mitigation of potential noise disturbance on avifauna a noise barrier was required before development proceeded.

Solutions

We prepared contaminated land assessment reports and remediation assessment plans for proposed dredging/excavation at the site as part of the site preparation works. We also provided a decontamination specialist to supervise the land decontamination works and remediation report writing.

For the development of the site we provided environmental consultancy services to supervise the environmental team leader and contractor, advise on the design, tender and specification for the noise barrier to avoid potential bird strike, and carry out site inspections to ensure compliance with environmental obligations.

Value and benefits

The initial establishment of the wetland restoration area has attracted 65 bird species (of which 45 species are of conservation importance and/or wetland-dependence), including regular sightings of the three target bird species of Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus, and two globally threatened species, Black-faced Spoonbills Platalea minor and the Collared Crow Corvus torquatus.

Development in environmentally sensitive areas has a high potential for programme disruption. We worked proactively with the developer to ensure that potential areas for disruption were identified and appropriate management controls were in place. Our presence at the site as part of on-going monitoring ensured that any deviation from the management plan was promptly identified and addressed.

Initial establishment of the wetland restoration area has attracted 65 bird species, including regular sightings of target species and globally threatened species.

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