LCQ3: A study on the Landscape Value Mapping of Hong Kong




Following is a question by the Hon Martin Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr John C Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (January 9):





In October last year, the Planning Department awarded an 18-month consultancy contract for a study on the Landscape Value Mapping of Hong Kong. The main objective of the study is to collect information on the geographical distribution and other basic features of landscapes in Hong Kong to facilitate future assessment of the impact of major projects on such places. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:


(a) of the reasons for conducting this study; whether it is because quite a number of landscapes are threatened by development projects; if so, of the places at which the landscapes are under threat;


(b) of the short-term measures in the interim to protect various landscapes before the study is completed and relevant measures are drawn up; and


(c) why this study requires 18 months to complete and does not include a consultation exercise; whether it will consider creating temporary posts such as researchers so that the study can be completed as early as possible?




Madam President,


(a) The reason for the Government to conduct the study on "Landscape Value Mapping of Hong Kong" is not because a number of landscapes have been threatened by development projects. The purpose of our study is to fulfil a positive objective by collecting and analysing the baseline conditions of the landscape resources in the territory in order to establish a database of the landscape covering the whole of Hong Kong.

In the past, the Government has never surveyed the landscape resources in Hong Kong as a whole and collected relevant information in a systematic way. When considering individual development projects, the departments concerned therefore have to collect afresh information on the landscape in the relevant areas to facilitate their assessment of the landscape impact of these projects. With the database, the assessment process will be more comprehensive and efficient.


(b) All currently known landscapes of value are basically protected by relevant legislation. Most of them are zoned conservation areas, green belts, coastal protection areas or sites of special scientific interest on statutory outline zoning plans. Under the Town Planning Ordinance, development within these areas is generally not permitted. The Victoria Harbour and country parks are safeguarded by the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and the Country Parks Ordinance. In addition, the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance requires that for certain specified projects, a comprehensive environmental impact assessment report must be prepared, which is subject to the approval of the Director of Environmental Protection. Landscape impact is one of the major areas of assessment.


(c) The assessment on the territory's baseline conditions of the landscape resources is the first major study of its kind ever conducted in Hong Kong. The scope of the study includes developing a system of landscape classification and establishing a set of classification criteria and evaluation criteria, as well as conducting a territory-wide field survey to collect information on the landscape in the whole Hong Kong. In view of the scale and complexity of the survey, and the remoteness and inaccessibility of most of the sites under survey, the study will need to take quite some time. The Planning Department has consulted the professional bodies, which have unanimously advised that the study period of 18 months is reasonable.


As to whether temporary posts such as researchers could be created in order to expedite the study process, we consider there might be some difficulties. The majority of the survey work will have to be conducted by surveyors with professional knowledge about landscape and the Planning Department does not expect that there are many professionals in this field available as temporary staff. Nevertheless, the department will refer the proposal to the consultant for consideration. Meanwhile, the department, together with the consultant, will explore how to expedite the study process where possible.


End/Wednesday, January 9, 2002