Following is a question by the Hon Ronny Tong and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 6):
The Government has indicated that in response to future population growth, it is necessary to formulate a policy to build up land reserve so as to meet housing demand and demand from daily lives, and therefore the plan of reclamation outside Victoria Harbour is proposed. However, the proposal under this plan to alter the shoreline has aroused strong dissatisfaction among residents in Tseung Kwan O and Ma On Shan, who demand exclusion of the two areas from the reclamation project. Furthermore, some villagers who are affected by the land development projects in the rural areas reject the acquisition of their residences and land by the project implementers because such acquisition will affect their ways of life over the years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) how the Government will respond to the public's dissatisfaction over the reclamation project after the completion of the Stage 1 consultation on the land supply strategy of reclamation outside Victoria Harbour; whether the Government will shelve the reclamation project; if it will not, of the reasons for that;
(b) given that the Government has introduced the Enhancing Land Supply Strategy and confirmed the acquisition of agricultural land in the New Territories as one of the means for building up land reserve, yet some people damage the ecology of the agricultural land and the farmers' livelihood by means such as setting up container yards and dumping wastes into rivers illegally, in the hope that their land will be acquired or the land use will be changed, and such complaint cases are abundant in the North East New Territories New Development Areas and the Ngau Tam Mei village in Yuen Long, whether the authorities have received complaints about people damaging the land first and leaving it abandoned later during resumption of rural land; if they have, of the number and contents of such complaints in the past five years; if not, whether they have considered setting up a complaint task force to handle cases of land resumption by unscrupulous means; and
(c) given the authorities' indication that in 2039, Hong Kong will at least need an extra of 4 500 hectares of land to meet the demand from its population, and will thus increase land supply through the Enhancing Land Supply Strategy (including measures such as land resumption, reclamation, redevelopment, rezoning, re-use of ex-quarry sites and rock cavern development, etc.), whether the Government has other means to increase land supply when the "multi-pronged" approach fails; if it has, of the contents of its plans; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government is committed to expanding land resources for Hong Kong through a multi-pronged approach to build up land reserve with a view to meeting housing, social and economic development needs. To provide adequate usable land to meet our long-term needs, we have to adopt a flexible mix of land supply options. In this connection, the 2011-12 Policy Address put forward six measures, including releasing industrial land; exploring the option of reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour; exploring the use of rock caverns to reprovision suitable existing public facilities and releasing such sites for housing development; looking into the use of green belt areas that are devegetated, deserted or formed; examining "Government, Institution or Community" sites; and exploring the possibility of converting into housing land some agricultural land in North District and Yuen Long currently used mainly for industrial purposes or temporary storage, or which is deserted.
In November 2011, the Government launched the Stage 1 Public Engagement exercise on Enhancing Land Supply Strategy for the purpose of consulting the public on the study of reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour and the use of rock caverns. In January 2012, the Civil Engineering and Development Department announced 25 possible reclamation sites for consideration. These sites were put forward as a means to facilitate public discussion on the site selection criteria on a more substantive basis and was not meant to confirm the locations of reclamation. In fact, up to now, the Government has yet to decide whether to carry out reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and the criteria to be adopted in selecting sites for reclamation. The potential types and locations of reclamation can also be revised in light of public views.
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) The Stage 1 Public Engagement exercise was concluded in March 2012. More than 10 000 responses to the questionnaire and telephone poll and over 40 000 written submissions were received from various sources. Many of them were related to the 25 possible reclamation sites. We are now compiling and analysing the views collected so as to come up with a shortlist of possible reclamation sites for further technical studies. We understand that members of the public have strong views on individual reclamation sites. In our subsequent technical studies and site selection exercise, we will attach importance to the selection criteria regarding community impact, taking public views into full consideration. We plan to publish in the second half of 2012 the report on the opinion survey conducted during the Stage 1 Public Engagement exercise. At the same time, we will propose a number of sites which can be further considered for reclamation and rock cavern development, with a view to commencing the Stage 2 Public Engagement exercise.
(b) The Administration has been closely monitoring land uses in the New Territories. Apart from new town developments already completed and large-scale New Developments Areas currently under planning, we are also making continuous efforts to identify other sites available for development. These include exploring the use of abandoned or under-utilised rural land for residential development. However, the Administration does not resume agricultural land as one of the means for building up land reserve. We also do not have details on complaints about the so-called "damaging the land first and leaving it abandoned later" scenario arising from the resumption of rural land.
(c) As mentioned above, we have been implementing, with continued efforts, various measures to expand land resources. Furthermore, a number of land use studies and reviews involving about 2 500 hectares of land are being conducted by the Planning Department. These should be conducive to increasing land supply in the short, medium and long terms. Outcomes have been achieved and progresses have been made in some areas.
For the short term, we have completed the reviews on industrial land and "Government, Institution or Community" sites as well as the first phase review of green belt areas. For the medium and long terms, major planning and engineering studies for sites such as the North East New Territories and Hung Shui Kiu New Development Areas and the remaining development in Tung Chung New Town are in progress. Planning and engineering studies for the Anderson Road Quarry and the Ex-Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine have also commenced, with community involvement and consultation exercises in the pipeline.
We will strive to complete the relevant work as soon as possible so as to release the land in the areas concerned for development. At the same time, we will also actively consider other possible ways to increase land supply, such as continuing to liaise with the MTR Corporation Limited to explore sites along railways which can be further developed.
Ends/Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:01