LCQ11: Unauthorised developments

Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 14):


According to media reports on October 8 and 9 this year, there were suspected unauthorised developments of tourist attractions and camp sites at Shui Hau Wan on Lantau Island.  After the slope in the vicinity of Shui Hau Wan was leveled and the trees on which were cleared, the area was paved with concrete and connected to sewers, and a greenhouse was being built.  Besides, a number of caravans used in foreign countries for travelling were also parked at the scene.  It has also been reported that the problem of unauthorised developments has become increasingly serious in recent years, and in most cases, it was only after the media, local communities or environmental groups had uncovered such developments did the authorities deploy staff to carry out inspections and require the persons concerned to restore the land to the original condition, but it was difficult to restore the ecological environment of the land concerned to the original condition as it has already been damaged.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  given that according to the approved South Lantau Coast Outline Zoning Plan, the entire area of Shui Hau Wan has been included in the "Coastal Protection Area" (CPA), and planning permission granted by the Town Planning Board (TPB) is required for the development of holiday camp facilities and utility installation for private projects at CPAs, whether TPB has received such applications; if it has, of the outcome of such applications; if not, what follow-up actions the authorities will take and the details concerned;

(b)  of the number of cases of unauthorised developments that came to the authorities' attention in the past five years, broken down by the means through which the authorities had learnt of such cases (including complaints from the public, inspections, media reports and others); the respective numbers of cases in which the authorities took law enforcement actions and the people involved were convicted; the number of cases of failure in restoring the ecological environment to the original condition, the locations of the land concerned and the reasons why the land cannot be restored to the original condition; and list the figures in table; and

(c)  whether the Government will introduce new measures to combat unauthorised developments; if it will, of the details?



The Government has all along monitored any potential unauthorised developments in all districts, especially the rural areas, to ensure that ecological habitats or buildings of conservation value will not be damaged.  Since it is not practicable to deploy staff to carry out daily inspection covering the entire territory, community monitoring is of vital importance and the authorities concerned welcome the public to report any suspected unauthorised developments.

My reply to the question of Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki is as follows:

(a)  The site in Shui Hau Wan, Lantau, which is suspected to have been developed for tourism and camping purposes, is within the "Coastal Protection Area" (CPA) under the South Lantau Coast Outline Zoning Plan No. S/SLC/16.  According to the Notes of the plan, the planning intention of CPA is to conserve, protect and retain the natural coastlines and the sensitive coastal natural environment.  The built developments within this zone should be kept at the minimal level.  Hence, the area concerned is not suitable for development.  In general, only where the developments are needed to support the conservation of the existing natural landscape or scenic quality of the area, or are essential infrastructure projects with an overriding public interest, could be submitted to the Town Planning Board (TPB) for planning permission.

According to records, TPB has not received any planning application in respect of the site.  In connection with this case, the District Lands Office, Islands inspected the vicinity of Shui Hau Wan, Lantau in September this year and confirmed that farming activities in compliance with the conditions of the relevant government licence were being carried out at the site in question, but the parking of vehicles there and the newly erected structures had violated the conditions.  The District Lands Office, Islands has issued warning letters to the licensee requesting the rectification of the irregularities as soon as possible.  When the District Lands Office, Islands inspected the site again, it was found that the vehicles concerned have been removed and the new structures have also been demolished.

(b)  The Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) empowers the Planning Department (PlanD) to take enforcement actions against unauthorised developments in the Development Permission Areas (generally the rural areas in the New Territories).  The number of cases of unauthorised developments PlanD had identified in the past five years (i.e. between 2008 and 2012), and the numbers of cases in which enforcement actions were taken under TPO, Reinstatement Notices had to be issued, Compliance Notices were issued for the enforcement/reinstatement actions, and the parties involved were convicted are set out in the attached Annex.

For "cases of unauthorised developments in which the authorities had learnt", PlanD does not single out those which were learnt from media reports (all cases known are included in the above figures).  PlanD will require the parties concerned to rectify the relevant unauthorised developments by a specified date and reinstate the damaged land, where necessary, under the respective statutory notices. 

(c)  The Administration has been closely monitoring cases of unauthorised developments and will take appropriate follow-up actions as necessary.

Regarding suspected unauthorised developments within the Development Permission Areas, PlanD's enforcement officers will carry out detailed investigation on the cases in accordance with TPO.  Once irregularities are identified, PlanD will issue statutory notices to the concerned parties under TPO, requiring rectification within a specified period.  Failure to comply with the requirements of statutory notices will be subject to prosecution.

For cases outside the Development Permission Areas, the District Lands Offices (DLOs) will take note of whether the developments on private land are in breach of the conditions of land lease.  If a breach of lease conditions is established, warning letters will be issued to the owners concerned to require rectification.  DLOs will, depending on the progress, take appropriate follow-up actions to enforce the conditions of land lease after seeking legal advice.  If unlawful excavation on or unlawful occupation of government land is identified, DLOs will initiate land control actions, which may include prosecution, in accordance with the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, having regard to the actual circumstances of the cases.

Ends/Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:10