Military infrastructure work at Tuen Mun Great Canyon, access limited due to security concerns

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16th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) In the serene early morning hours, hikers and nature enthusiasts used to flock to the Leung Tin Au area within the Tuen Mun Great Canyon, a beloved local spot known for its serene landscapes and scenic hiking trails. However, recent developments have transformed this tranquil retreat into a site of military significance, sparking concerns and curiosity among the local community.

Last month, social media channels buzzed with images and reports from hikers who noticed substantial changes to the area. Heavy machinery, including excavators and dump trucks, were seen widening the once-narrow paths, significantly altering the natural landscape. This construction activity has led to restricted access to the trails, particularly the military road leading from Leung Tin Au to Ha Pak Nai, a route previously popular among hikers.

When approached for details about the ongoing works and expected completion date, a spokesperson from the Security Bureau provided a curt response, stating that specifics regarding the construction were classified as military secrets. The spokesperson emphasised that the area, part of the Castle Peak Firing Range, was a military zone where unauthorised access was strictly prohibited under multiple legal statutes, including the Garrison Law and the Public Order Ordinance.

The presence of military infrastructure within these recreational spaces has stirred a mix of frustration and intrigue among residents. The once-open gates that welcomed nature lovers now bear signs warning against entry, citing ongoing civil engineering works and the dangers of entering a live-firing range. These notices, however, lack details about the issuing authority, adding an air of mystery and speculation about the extent and nature of the military activities.

Despite the obstructions, some hikers have continued to venture near the construction zones, bypassing closed gates and exploring alternative paths. Their accounts and shared photographs on platforms such as Facebook have documented the transformation of the landscape and the imposition of new boundaries.

The Security Bureau has reiterated the area’s importance to the People’s Liberation Army’s Hong Kong Garrison, asserting that the maintenance and construction activities are lawful measures to manage and utilise military facilities. Under the Garrison Law, the local government is obliged to support the military’s defence duties, ensuring the safety and legal rights of its personnel.