Transcript of the stand-up session by the Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands), Mrs Carrie Lam regarding the High Court judgment on Central Reclamation Phase III

Following is a transcript of the stand-up session by the Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands), Mrs Carrie Lam regarding the High Court judgment on Central Reclamation Phase III (CRIII) today (March 9):

Reporter: (inaudible)

Mrs Lam: Maybe I'll take the second question first. I think the harbour controversy has lasted for almost one full year. It was in February last year that the Society for Protection of the Harbour lodged the judicial review against the Wan Chai Draft OZP. In the last 12 months, both sides have spent a lot of time, effort and attention on handling the various litigation. As a result, what we have gained and now in front of us, is a final interpretation of the legal principles underlying the Protection of Harbour Ordinance. This is final as it is handed down by the Court of Final Appeal. The Government has fully acknowledged the community's aspirations to protect and preserve the harbour. That's why, we have publicly stated and reiterated that other than the CRIII and the Wan Chai North reclamation, as well as the Southeast Kowloon reclamation, both of which are now under review, that there will be no more reclamation within the harbour.

We also see a lot of consensus on working together to create a vibrant harbour. I will make a strong appeal to the Society for Protection of the Harbour that it is time to set aside all our differences and try to review the consensus to move ahead. As some of you may have noticed even some community organisations have come out to say that regardless of the outcome of the High Court judgment, both sides should not contemplate any further appeal and let the Hong Kong community move on.

As regards your first question, we have partially suspended the marine works for just over five months. The contract period of CRIII is a total of 55 months. Some delays are inevitable but the Territory Development Department will now liaise very closely with the contractor with a view to press ahead with the works. As far as the likely claims from the contractor go, so far the contractor has not lodged any formal claims. Both sides are very keen and anxious to continue the works of CRIII. We do expect some compensation in terms of extra money incurred by the contractor, eg, extra storage for the seawall precast that has been done in the Mainland but could not be delivered to Hong Kong for installation because of the suspension and also because of the additional engagement of resident site staff over the last five months. All these will be subject to substantiation to be provided by the contractor.

Reporter: (about Harbourfront Enhancement Advisory Committee)?

Mrs Lam: Basically repeating what I have said in Cantonese. This Harbourfront Enhancement Advisory Committee is to be appointed by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands to advise the Government on a number of things relating to our mission and vision to create a vibrant and easily accessible harbourfront for the enjoyment of Hong Kong's community. It will be very broad-based. We intend to invite relevant organisations and professional groups to nominate their representatives to sit on the committee together with district personalities as well as Government officials. We will work together on a number of specific areas. There are, as I said, planning areas. First of all, since we are now launching this comprehensive review on the remaining reclamations within the harbour, ie, the Wan Chai North as well as the Southeast Kowloon. We really like to involve the public as early as possible so as to forestall a recurrence of disputes later on in the statutory town planning process. So the committee will be consulted at every stage of the review of these two remaining reclamations.

Secondly, we invite the committee to advise us on the existing land use, planning and design of the harbourfront. Thirdly, we accord a lot of importance to public participation. Together with the committee, we intend to consider ways and means to allow the public to express their views and aspirations about what they feel Hong Kong's harbourfront should look like, perhaps with some interesting community involvement projects. Finally, there could be some innovative ideas on the future management of harbourfront areas, such as private-sector participation. We do expect the community to come up with views and advice on those areas.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Tuesday, March 9, 2004