Reporting Scheme for Unauthorised Building Works in New Territories Exempted Houses extended to December 31

A spokesman for the Development Bureau said today (September 26) that in response to appeals from the Heung Yee Kuk (HYK) and various rural committees, and after taking into careful consideration the views of the HYK and progress on implementation of the Reporting Scheme for Unauthorised Building Works (UBWs) in New Territories Exempted Houses (the Scheme), the Administration has agreed to extend the reporting period of the Scheme for three months until December 31.

The spokesman said, "There has been a sharp increase in the number of UBWs reports received by the Buildings Department (BD) in recent weeks, from an average of about 20 reports weekly between the commencement of the Scheme on April 1 and August 24, to an average of nearly 900 reports weekly between August 25 and September 25. The Administration believes that due to better understanding of the Scheme, residents in New Territories (NT) village houses have become more enthusiastic about reporting their UBWs and the Government should facilitate this process.

"The Administration sympathises with the rural community's request for an extension, in order for villagers to fully understand the Scheme and to file reports, especially in light of the possible confusion caused by misleading rumours and unfounded messages at the inception of the Scheme. The extension of the reporting period therefore allows more time for NT villagers to report UBWs. It also reflects the Administration's commitment to act in accordance with the law and with reason and compassion."

The Administration welcomes the HYK's undertaking to take positive steps to promote the Scheme and to encourage NT villagers to submit reports of UBWs. The Administration will maintain communication and work hand in hand with the HYK to facilitate effective implementation of the enforcement policy.

On April 1, 2012, the BD put into effect the enhanced enforcement policy against UBWs in NT village houses. On the fundamental premise of ensuring public and building safety and complying with existing legislation, the Administration has adopted a pragmatic approach in tackling UBWs in NT village houses through categorisation of UBWs and prioritisation of enforcement.

The BD has selected nine target villages for enforcement against First Round Targets which constitute a serious contravention of the law and pose higher potential risks, in particular village houses of four storeys or more. Following the completion of surveys by the BD's consultants, the BD has issued removal orders to the property owners in the selected villages, requiring the demolition of the UBWs concerned. As at September 25, the BD had issued 111 removal orders against First Round Targets.

With regard to existing UBWs which are less serious and pose lower potential risks, the BD launched a Reporting Scheme on April 1. Subject to safety certification, enforcement action against the registered UBWs will be withheld for the time being. The original six-month reporting period was to expire on September 30. As at September 25, the BD had received more than 4 500 UBWs report forms.

The spokesman said, "The Scheme is not applicable to First Round Targets which constitute serious contravention of the law and pose higher potential risks. Hence, extension of the reporting period will not affect BD enforcement actions against First Round Targets.

"Notwithstanding the fact that the Administration has introduced a simple and user-friendly report form as well as a six-month reporting period, the reporting period has now been further extended for three months. We sincerely hope that villagers will make good use of this last opportunity and report their UBWs within the next three months. The Administration will endeavour to assist reporting and to explain the registration procedures."

Ends/Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:45