LCQ12: Provision of infrastructure

Following is a question by the Hon Alice Mak and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (September 29):
The current term Government advocates the adoption of the "infrastructure-led" and "capacity creating" approaches in planning for new development areas, so as to create more development opportunities for these areas and make the use of lands in their vicinity more efficient. Regarding the provision of infrastructure, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as the Government indicated in the 2018 Policy Address that it must proactively create capacity through a "transport-first" strategy, of the respective numbers of transport infrastructure projects (i) proposed, (ii) in respect of which funding have been approved and (iii) commenced, since 2018, and set out by project name how the relevant projects create capacity and make the use of lands in their vicinity more efficient; 

(2) of the various indicators adopted for reflecting the economic return of transport infrastructure projects (and whether these indicators include new economic activities and the increase in land value) and their respective weightings; 

(3) of the details of the improvement works for the New Territories sewerage systems completed in the past five years, including the project names, the lots involved, as well as the commencement and completion dates of such works; 

(4) of the current number of villages in the New Territories the sewerage systems of which have yet to connect to public sewers; the respective numbers of villages for whose sewerage systems the Government (i) has and (ii) has not yet carried out improvement works, together with the details of the former and the reasons for the latter; and 

(5) whether, in the light of a number of large-scale development projects being carried out in the New Territories, it has plans to enhance the infrastructure in respect of electricity supply, fresh water supply, drainage and sewerage, etc., in the New Territories in the coming five years; if so, of the details and timetables of the various works projects?


With the other relevant bureaux consulted, my reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The current term Government advocates the "infrastructure-led" and "capacity creating" planning approach in order to motivate development of land by provision of transport infrastructure. Based on the information provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), for instance, in terms of railway, the Government invited the MTR Corporation Limited to proceed with the detailed planning and design of the Northern Link (NOL) project in December 2020. The NOL is crucial to unleashing the development potential of the largely underutilised land along its alignment and increasing the supply of land and housing. Except a few low-to-medium density existing/planned residential developments in the vicinity of Kam Sheung Road and Au Tau stations, the other areas along the alignment are yet to be developed. The availability of the NOL can open up development opportunities with more efficient land uses for the relevant areas. Besides, the Government has been implementing Route 11 (section between Yuen Long and North Lantau), Tsing Yi-Lantau Link, widening of Yuen Long Highway (section between Lam Tei and Tong Yan San Tsuen) and Tuen Mun Bypass. The entire group of trunk roads can improve the traffic conditions of major roads connecting the north-western New Territories with the urban areas. By improving road infrastructure, it can also further strengthen the connectivity of trunk roads and enhance the capacity of interchanges, strengthen the connectivity of developments in the vicinity, and unleash the development potential of the relevant areas effectively.
Generally speaking, not only will the increased transport capacity benefit key government projects under planning, it will also incentivise private developers to advance their development plans with a larger housing yield.

(2) According to the THB, in line with common practice for other infrastructure projects and established methodology, the assessment on economic return is an indicator of the benefits that a proposed transport infrastructure project will bring to the community. Conventionally, economic return is represented by the economic internal rate of return (EIRR). The EIRR of a transport infrastructure project mainly reflects the savings in the travelling time of transport users over the project life (normally 50 years), as a measure of the overall cost-effectiveness of the project to the community.
The conventionally defined EIRR may not be able to reflect economic benefits of a transport infrastructure project which may not be readily quantifiable, such as supporting land development opportunities; and improvements to the environment arising from the provision of more environmentally friendly transport service (such as railway). According to the THB, all these factors are taken into account in the overall appraisal of transport infrastructure proposals as they are all concerned with the sustainability of a community, such as the quality of life, mobility of the population, and competitiveness of the economy of Hong Kong.

(3) In the past five years, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) completed 15 sewerage projects in the New Territories (including Lantau and Outlying Islands, same below), details as listed below:

Moreover, the Government is currently implementing 29 sewerage projects in different areas of the New Territories.

(4) At present, all urban areas across Hong Kong have been provided with public sewerage systems, and over 93 per cent of the overall population in the urban and rural areas combined has access to public sewers, which is comparable to the coverage rate of the top ranking countries and regions. Whereas premises in those areas not yet covered by the public sewerage systems are required to continue using on-site sewage treatment facilities, such as biological treatment facilities or septic tanks and soakaway systems.
There are about 1 000 villages in the New Territories, among which sewerage projects for about 260 villages have been completed and about 225 villages have been included in the Public Works Programme as at June 2021, including about 65 villages currently being covered by the following sewerage projects:

Remaining villages that are not yet included in sewerage works programmes are mainly located far away from the public sewerage network, scarcely populated or with local residents who did not accept the Government's proposed sewerage arrangement. In future planning, the Government will consider various factors, including level of improvement to the environment, density of village population, acceptability by residents, technical feasibility and cost effectiveness, to determine the priority of sewerage expansion programmes for progressive extension of sewage collection network.

(5) According to the Environment Bureau (ENB), regarding large-scale development plans in the New Territories, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) will assess the electricity supply for New Development Areas (NDAs), and submit new project proposals in a timely manner for the Government's approval. To meet the electricity demand, the Government will critically examine the need, timing and cost effectiveness when reviewing the project proposals. Under CLP's current development plan, the Government has approved several electricity supply projects relating to NDAs in the New Territories, such as establishing new electricity substations to meet the demand of Kwu Tung North/Fanling North and Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen NDAs. These substations will commence operation successively in the coming few years according to the development progress of these NDAs.
As regards water supply systems, the Water Supplies Department will upgrade water supply infrastructures, including extension of Ngau Tam Mei Water Treatment Works and Siu Ho Wan Water Treatment Works and water supply networks, to supply fresh water along with new town development projects, including Kwu Tung North/Fanling North, Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling, Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen and Tung Chung New Town Extension. Details and timetable of the extension works for water treatment works are tabulated below:

On drainage systems, at present, the DSD has five on-going drainage improvement projects in the New Territories. Details are as follows:

In addition, the DSD now has 11 drainage improvement projects under planning and design stage in the New Territories. Three of these projects (*) will be submitted to the Finance Committee in 2022 for funding approval, and relevant works will commence the soonest possible. Details are as follows:

On sewerage systems, along with the on-going large-scale NDA projects in the New Territories, the ENB, in collaboration with the DSD, has been planning for sewerage infrastructure and implementing expansion plans in the respective areas. The Government has commenced the reconstruction and upgrading of the Shek Wu Hui sewage treatment works to cope with the development plan at Kwu Tung North/Fanling North NDA. The works will be completed in phases between 2025 and 2034. Also, to support the future development at Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen NDA and Yuen Long South NDA, sewerage facilities are being planned in these two areas, and the construction works are anticipated to commence in the period between 2027 and 2028.

Note 1: Details of project may be adjusted subject to design development, comments received during public consultation and other relevant factors.
Note 2: The six districts comprise Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing, Sham Shui Po, Yau Tsim Mong, Kowloon City and Wong Tai Sin Districts. 

Ends/Wednesday, September 29, 2021 
Issued at HKT 16:36