Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr John Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (October 17):
As the authorities concerned are unable to contact the owners of some derelict agricultural lands, environmental problems caused by such lands are often difficult to solve. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the current number of pieces of such agricultural lands in the territory and the total area thereof, as well as the districts in which they are mostly found; and
(b) as such agricultural lands are usually covered with weeds, breeding mosquitoes and insects, or are illegally used as car parks and for storing containers or miscellaneous objects, etc, thus causing nuisances to the residents nearby, whether there are any policies or measures in place to address such situations, and whether it will review the effectiveness of such policies or measures?
(a) According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's estimate, there are about 4,000 hectares of fallow agricultural land. They are mainly located in North Western and North Eastern New Territories.
(b) The upkeeping of private land is the responsibility of the land owner. In response to complaints of sanitary nuisance occurring on private land, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will investigate and if found justified, will serve notice on the person causing the nuisance under section 127(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Cap. 132. Any offender who fails to comply with the notice may be prosecuted.
The use of agricultural land for car parks or storage containers, etc. does not necessarily breach the land lease conditions. Where unauthorised structure have been erected illegally, the relevant District Lands Officers may initiate lease enforcement action.
The Task Force (Black Spots) established under the Lands Department has also been taking measures to eliminate unauthorised uses on private land and to undertake environmental improvement measures such as landscaping and fencing of the sites. Since its establishment in 1994, the Task Force (Black Spots) has already brought about environmental improvement to or eliminated unauthorised uses on 726 private land sites covering an area of 163.08 hectares.
Any development, including the use of agricultural land for car parking purpose or container storage use, which are not authorised under the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO), Cap. 131, is subject to planning enforcement. The Planning Department may issue an Enforcement Notice to the person responsible for the unauthorised development, and the concerned Notice will be registered at the Land Registry against the title of land until compliance has been met. In the event of non-compliance, the Notice recipient is subject to prosecution under the TPO.
The relevant departments keep the effectiveness of their enforcement efforts under regular review. As and when necessary, they will consider measures that will further enhance the effectiveness of their enforcement actions in their respective scope of work.
End/Wednesday, October 17, 2001