Accurate and relevant information facilitate rational debate on reclamation

The Government recognises the importance of sharing with the community information on harbour reclamation to facilitate a rational debate. The Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau (HPLB) has produced a leaflet entitled "Our Harbour -- Past, Present, Future" which is now widely circulated to various organisations and schools and distributed to members of the public.

Relevant information may also be obtained through the bureau's website, Similar initiatives of community groups are welcomed.

However, a HPLB spokesman pointed out that outdated and inaccurate information is contained in a booklet called "The Harbour Primer" published by Friends of the Harbour, copies of which are circulated as inserts in some newspapers today (December 1).

Blatant examples of inaccuracy in "The Harbour Primer" booklet include --

* allegation that the Government has plans to reclaim 636 hectares from Victoria Harbour by reference to a 1994 Town Planning Board paper which both the Board and the Government have refuted in the past months. The fact is many of the ideas of reclamation then floated have never been incorporated into any statutory outline zoning plans. The Government's present position is as stated in the HPLB leaflet. That is, the Central Reclamation Phase III (23 hectares) the Wan Chai Reclamation Phase II (26 hectares) and the South East Kowloon Development (133 hectares) are the last reclamations with the Harbour and the latter two are being reviewed;

* allegation that dredging works releases contaminants into the seawater and dumping of mud creates unacceptable pollution. This has totally ignored the close environmental monitoring and auditing that CRIII works are being subject to under the relevant environmental protection legislation;

* allegation that the Government permits change of land use at will quoting inaccurate cases including that the City Hall and Gardens may be re-zoned for commercial development. The City Hall Complex is zoned "Government, Institute or Community (1)" on the approved Central District (Extension) Outline Zoning Plan (OZP). There is no plan for rezoning the City Hall for commercial development. Indeed, taking into account the concern to preserve the city hall complex as a classic architecture of the 1960s, the publication of the Central (Extension) OZP No. S/H24/5 on 2.2.2002 has proposed a revised local road layout so as to allow the whole complex to remain intact. The existing memorial garden will be retained.

The bureau will provide a more detailed response to the Legislative Council later to facilitate discussion of the joint meeting of the Legislative Council Panels on Planning, Lands and Works and Environmental Panel on December 8.

Ends/Monday, December 1, 2003