LCQ16: Country park enclaves

Following is a question by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 16):


It has been reported in the media that developers have planned large-scale residential developments in the "enclaves" (i.e. lands adjacent to but not included in the country park) in Hoi Ha, Sai Kung.  Some members of the public have relayed to me that should there be no proper planning by the Government regarding the land use of enclaves and major development projects be allowed on such land, the environment of country parks would be adversely affected.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the current uses and statutory land uses of various enclaves, and whether they are privately owned and are involved in development projects;

(b)  of the latest planning for various enclaves (including whether they are covered by any statutory plan and the types of such plans);

(c)  whether it will draw up a schedule to expeditiously include enclaves in statutory plans and conduct public consultation on the use of such enclaves; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d)  whether it will step up inspection of enclaves to ensure their actual uses in compliance with the stipulations in land leases and to eradicate acts of "destroy first and build later"; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e)  as some members of the public have pointed out that residential developments in enclaves will affect the environment of the adjacent country parks, whether the Government will conduct environment impact assessments and traffic impact assessments in respect of such development proposals; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



There are 77 country park enclaves (enclaves) in the territory, of which 23 have already been covered by Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) before 2010-11.  To meet conservation and social development needs, it was announced in the 2010-11 Policy Address that the Government would either include the remaining enclaves into country parks or cover them by statutory plans.  The Government's current plan is to cover about half of the 54 enclaves by statutory plans.  Such plan was formulated having regard to the actual situation of the enclaves, including such factors as their conservation values, landscape and aesthetic values, geographical locations, existing scale of human settlements and immediate development pressure.

As at today, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has confirmed to incorporate three enclaves, namely Sai Wan, Kam Shan and Yuen Tun into the area of their respective country parks, and has invoked the statutory procedures under the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208) (CPO).  The relevant approved new maps of the concerned country parks have been deposited in the Land Registry.  In accordance with CPO, AFCD has prepared a designation order, which was gazetted on October 11 and tabled at the Legislative Council on October 16 subject to negative vetting.  For the remaining country park enclaves, we will consider the priority in assessing their suitability for inclusion in the country parks based on the experience gained from implementing the designation process for Sai Wan, Kam Shan and Yuen Tun.

As regards the inclusion of enclaves into the Development Permission Area (DPA) Plans and subsequently into the OZPs, we have already prepared DPA plans to cover 24 enclaves, and three of them were included in the draft replacement OZPs.  We intend to complete preparation of DPA plans for the remaining enclaves within 2013-14.  As the next step, we will work on the preparation of OZPs for the other enclaves.

In consultation with the Environment Bureau, my reply to the question raised by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan is as follows:

(a)  The general planning intention of the 24 enclaves covered by DPA plans (in which a total of 17 DPA plans are involved) (Note 1) is to conserve their natural landscape and rural environment, and to protect sites with high conservation values from disturbance.  In general, except for land zoned "Village Type Development" which is to reflect the existing recognised villages and mainly reserve land for small house developments by indigenous villagers, most of the areas covered by DPA Plans are temporarily designated as "Unspecified Use".  Apart from agricultural uses, all developments in this zone shall require a planning permission from the Town Planning Board (TPB).  The designation of this zoning is to allow sufficient time for the relevant authority to conduct detailed analyses and studies together with the relevant government departments, with a view to establishing appropriate land uses in the course of preparing an OZP.

The statutory land use zonings of the three relevant draft OZPs mainly include "Conservation Area", "Coastal Protection Area" and "Village Type Development", etc. 

All the 24 enclaves incorporated into statutory plans involve private land.  The statutory land use zonings covered by the plans are set out at Annex.  As for the remaining 30 enclaves (including two of the enclaves confirmed to be incorporated into the area of their respective country parks by AFCD), some of the land therein are privately owned. 

Based on the information from the Lands Department (LandsD), LandsD has received applications for the development or redevelopment of New Territories Exempted Houses (including small houses) on individual pieces of land within the area of 19 out of the aforementioned 54 enclaves.  TPB so far has not received any planning application for large-scale development proposals.

(b) and (c)  As mentioned above, AFCD has confirmed to incorporate three enclaves into the area of their respective country parks, and has invoked the statutory procedures in accordance with CPO. 

For enclaves which are assessed to be suitable for incorporation into country parks, the Country and Marine Parks Authority (Authority) will submit the designation proposals to the Country and Marine Parks Board (CMPB) for consideration and will consult the relevant stakeholders (e.g. Rural Committees and District Councils) before initiating the relevant statutory process.  In respect of the statutory process, designations of country parks are carried out in accordance with the provisions of CPO, which include a set of statutory consultation procedures.  In accordance with section 8 of CPO, the Authority will prepare the draft maps of the concerned country parks in consultation with CMPB.  The draft maps will then be made available for public inspection by publishing in the Gazette a notice in English and in Chinese in accordance with section 9 of CPO, before they are submitted to the Chief Executive in Council.  During the 60-day period of public inspection from the date of the gazettal, any person aggrieved by a draft map may send a written statement of his objection to the draft map to the Authority and to the Secretary of CMPB.  The objections will be heard by CMPB, after which the Authority will submit the draft maps and relevant documents to the Chief Executive in Council for approval in accordance with section 12 of CPO.

Besides, 24 enclaves have already been covered by DPA plans, of which three of them were also incorporated into the draft replacement OZPs.  The remaining works will continue.  In general, to avoid "destroy first and built later" incidents resulting in "existing uses" incompatible with the surrounding environment, public consultation would be conducted only after gazettal of the DPA plan in accordance with the established practice.  During the two-month draft plan exhibition period, the relevant authority will consult the concerned District Council(s) and Rural Committee(s), and the public can also submit their representations and comments to TPB.  In preparing an OZP to replace the relevant DPA plan, the relevant authority will consult the concerned District Council(s), Rural Committee(s) and the relevant stakeholders before its gazettal.  Similarly, the public can also submit their representations and comments to TPB during the two-month draft plan exhibition period. 

(d)  When any suspected unauthorised development is found on enclaves during their routine inspection of country parks, staff of AFCD will notify the government department(s) concerned, including LandsD, as soon as practicable for follow-up actions as appropriate. 

Upon receipt of the complaint or referral, LandsD will deploy staff to carry out inspection and collect relevant information about the case.  They will seek legal advice if necessary so as to ascertain if there is any contravention to the land lease.  If a breach of lease conditions is established, LandsD will take appropriate follow-up actions, such as issuing a warning letter to the owner(s) concerned to require rectification.  The Government can re-enter the concerned private land for the most serious cases.

In addition, the Planning Authority (i.e. the Director of Planning) may take enforcement actions against unauthorised developments on land within the DPA (i.e. the land covered by DPA plans or the subsequent replacement OZPs) under TPO.  These actions include the issuance of Enforcement Notices (EN) requiring the parties concerned to discontinue the unauthorised developments, and prosecute those who have failed to comply with the EN.

(e)  As mentioned above, apart from agricultural uses, all developments in the areas designated as "Unspecified Use" shall require a planning permission from TPB.  When considering the relevant planning application, TPB could impose certain conditions according to the situation, such as requesting the applicant to assess the proposed development's impacts on the environment and traffic, etc., and to implement improvement and mitigation measures.

In accordance with "the Environmental, Transport and Works Bureau's Technical Circular (Works) No. 5/2005", under the current administrative arrangement, for development proposals/ submissions that may affect natural streams/ rivers, the approving and processing authorities should, at various stages of the development, consult and collate comments from AFCD and relevant departments.  For small house developments, the design and construction of their sewerage systems should also comply with the relevant standards and regulations, such as the Environmental Protection Department's Practice Note for Professional Person "Professional Persons Environmental Consultative Committee Practice Notes 5/93".

Besides, according to the relevant statutory plans, permission from TPB is required for any works involving diversion of streams or filling of ponds which may cause adverse drainage impacts on the adjacent areas or adverse impacts on the natural environment before commencement.

1. Amongst the DPA Plans, the one covering the Tai Long Sai Wan enclave was effective until August 6, 2013.  This enclave was already incorporated into the draft map of Sai Kung East Country Park on October 26, 2012.

Ends/Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:30