Following is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 9):
The Government has enhanced greening in recent years. Apart from formulating Greening Master Plans (GMPs) for various districts, the Government also submitted a paper to the Panel on Development of this Council at its meeting on December 18, 2007 to seek the views of this Council on the way forward in greening. Yet, in its recent reply to my enquiry, the Government indicated that the greening works under the GMPs for Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok districts had been completed at the end of last year, but the two greening works at Argyle Street and Shanghai Street had been cancelled due to "some unforeseeable difficulties encountered during the construction stage" and "the strong opposition from the stakeholders and shop tenants in the district" respectively. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) given that in formulating GMPs, the Government appoints consultants to conduct technical studies and holds a number of district consultation meetings to collect public views, whether the Government has assessed the reasons why it was not until the construction stage that the aforesaid greening works were forced to be cancelled; if an assessment has been made, of the outcome;
(b) among the greening works implemented under GMPs, apart from the two aforesaid greening works, of the number of those which were cancelled during construction, together with the locations and information on the original designs of such works;
(c) whether there is any objective indicator (such as the number of plants planted or the size of the greening area) for assessing if the works under GMPs for various districts have been completed as planned; if there are such indicators, of the outcome of the Government's assessment of the works under various GMPs; if not, how the Government conducts its assessment;
(d) given that the Government had indicated at the aforesaid meeting that it would continue to explore opportunities for collaboration with quasi-government bodies and the private sector to promote greening, among the completed works under GMPs, how many were completed by the Government in collaboration with quasi-government bodies or the private sector, together with the locations and contents of such works;
(e) given that the Government had indicated at the aforesaid meeting that the authorities were developing quality parks and open spaces, had embarked on a number of pilot schemes on vertical greening and were pursuing new techniques in greening, of the progress of each of the schemes and initiatives; and
(f) apart from continuing to promote rooftop greening and green buildings, what new strategies the Government has to promote urban greening?
The Government has proactively promoted greening across the territory to create a quality urban environment and enhance our quality of life through extensive planting, visually pleasing landscape designs and proper vegetation maintenance. My reply to the Honourable To's question is as follows:
(a) In the process of formulating Greening Master Plans (GMPs), the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the District Participation Groups formed by District Council members jointly organise community fora and conduct site visits to collect the views of residents in the districts. Before implementing the greening works, the CEDD will further consult the shop proprietors and residents near the planting spots. The CEDD's experience shows that most planting proposals under the GMPs are welcomed by shop proprietors and residents. However, objections may be encountered occasionally. In such circumstances, the CEDD will strive to implement the greening measures by proactively explaining the proposals to the parties concerned. The CEDD had to cancel certain greening measures in individual cases due to differences in views in the local community.
(b) Under the GMPs for Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok districts, 23 planting proposals (apart from the planting proposals at the two locations mentioned in the question) were cancelled due to strong opposition from the shop proprietors and residents in the vicinity. 15 planting proposals could not be implemented according to the original plans due to densely placed underground utilities identified at the proposed planting locations during detailed site investigations. Although some of the greening proposals could not be implemented, the CEDD has enhanced planting in other suitable locations in the districts to achieve the objective of beautifying the landscape in the districts. In addition, to tie in with other public works or railway works, four planting proposals will only commence after the completion of the related works. The planting proposals mentioned above are set out at Annex 1.
(c) When evaluating whether the GMPs have been completed as planned, we focus mainly on the quality and the quantity of planting achieved. In terms of quality, the greening works under the GMPs have resulted in significant improvement in the local environment, and the CEDD has received positive feedback from many locals. In terms of quantity, every GMP has specified a target planting quantity. In respect of those GMPs for which the short-term greening measures have been completed (i.e. GMPs for Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay), the total actual planting quantity exceeded the original target having increased from about 5,100 trees and 1.11 million shrubs in the original plan to about 8,200 trees and 1.67 million shrubs.
(d) In the process of formulating the GMPs, Government departments have discussed collaboration in greening works with various quasi-government organisations and the private sector, e.g. introducing greening elements as far as practicable and adopting greening designs that drew upon the planting themes and the recommended plant species of the relevant GMPs in the projects of these organisations. To date, a total of 12 joint greening projects have been implemented. Please refer to Annex 2 for details.
(e) Given that the built-up areas in Hong Kong are densely populated with little room for planting, we have proactively promoted new greening techniques (such as vertical greening and rooftop greening) to beautify our cityscape and to reduce the heat island effect. The progress of the pilot schemes on vertical greening and the studies on new greening techniques mentioned in the paper submitted by the Development Bureau to the Legislative Council Panel on Development on December 18, 2007 is set out in Annex 3.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, with the assistance of the Architectural Services Department, has been providing a variety of parks and open spaces for enjoyment by the public and has been adopting designs of a good quality. For the 10 parks and open spaces in the above mentioned paper submitted to the Legislative Council Panel on Development which were under construction at the time, they have all been completed. For the 10 planned parks and open spaces under planning then, two of them have been completed, six are under construction and the remaining two are under planning. As regards the development projects with quality design to suit the needs of different districts, examples include the Aldrich Bay Park (which adopts a design theme of an old fishing village and provides several viewing points inside the park for the public to appreciate old fishing boats and to learn about the way of life of fishermen), recreational facilities on the Jordan Valley Former Landfill in Kwun Tong (which is a park with a variety of facilities, including a radio-controlled model car racing circuit) and Ngau Chi Wan Recreation Ground in Wong Tai Sin (which is a park with a variety of facilities, including an archery court on natural turf).
(f) The Government is committed to the long-term objective of turning Hong Kong into a greener city. We will seek to increase greening opportunities in the early stages of land planning and design, for example, reserving adequate space for greening, providing planting zones along roads that are free of underground utilities, and considering specifiying a greening ratio for specific sites, etc. In addition, we will promote rooftop greening and vertical greening to the construction and landscaping sectors. We will also provide technical support to the industry, e.g. conducting studies and compiling information on suitable species for rooftop greening and vertical greening, organising seminars for experience sharing, etc. To achieve a sustainable green environment, we will formulate and promulgate technical standards, guidelines and best practices on quality landscape design, planting and vegetation maintenance, and organise technical sharing sessions, etc.
Ends/Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:40