LCQ18: Uses of Tin Wan Praya Road sites

Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 1):


The Government permitted the provision of obnoxious facilities such as sewage treatment works and concrete batching plant many years ago in areas along Tin Wan Praya Road, which were far away from residential buildings, so that the pollution caused by these facilities would not affect the residents nearby.  Yet, with the completion of major residential estates one after another in the area, such as Wah Kwai Estate, Ka Lung Court and South Horizons, these facilities are still in operation.  Moreover, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) also plans to use a piece of land in that area which is the closest to the residential buildings as a works area for supporting a rail project, so that the earth removed from tunnel excavation can be shipped away.  In addition, the Government recently indicated that after the aforesaid concrete batching plant ceased operation on March 31 this year, it intended to lease the site through open tender for continued use as a concrete batching plant; furthermore, works to be conducted for the sewage treatment works to complement the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme are in the pipeline.  As a result, the number of obnoxious facilities in that area will likely increase instead of decrease.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective uses of the various existing buildings and sites under planning at Tin Wan Praya Road, and their respective closest distances from the residential buildings, together with a map indicating the locations of these buildings and sites;

(b) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid situation that the number of obnoxious facilities has all along been increasing after the construction of residential buildings in great numbers in the vicinity reflects faulty planning on the part of the Government; if the assessment result is in the negative; of the reasons for the Government deliberately permitting the provision of obnoxious facilities near residential buildings;

(c) whether the authorities have conducted environmental impact assessment studies (including studies on the air quality) and assessments on the impact on public health for the provision of such additional obnoxious facilities;

(d) whether the views of the residents and the District Council as gauged by the Southern District Office support the Government to continue to lease the site of the aforesaid concrete batching plant for such use and at the same time to set up an additional earth transfer station for MTRCL in that area; if the views are in the affirmative, of the evidence; if the views are in the negative, the legal justifications to enable the Government to follow public opinion and reject the provision of these two types of facilities in that area; and

(e) whether it plans to relocate all the aforesaid obnoxious facilities away from the vicinity of residential buildings; if so, of the details and the implementation timetable?



Our consolidated reply to Hon Kam Nai-wai's question is as follows:

(a) The existing buildings to the west of the breakwater at Tin Wan Praya Road include a preliminary sewage treatment works, gasholder and works and a concrete batching plant.

Under the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) Stage 2A, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) will build a sewage tunnel about 80 metres beneath Tin Wan Praya Road and upgrade the preliminary sewage treatment works.  Three pieces of government land at Tin Wan Praya Road will be acquired by DSD as temporary works areas during construction.

The proposed South Island Line (East) to be built by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) will inevitably generate a lot of debris while construction is in progress.  To ease the burden on local surface traffic and external trunk roads, and reduce the impact on the environment, the MTRCL has proposed to identify suitable locations along the coastline in Southern District for setting up temporary construction and demolition material barging points to ship away the debris.  However, it is not easy to find a suitable location in Southern District, and after consultation with the relevant government departments, the MTRCL proposes that one of the locations where a temporary construction and demolition material barging point could be built is at the waterfront of Kellett Bay in Aberdeen, south of Wah Kwai Estate and Ka Lung Court.  The debris excavated from the former Wong Chuk Hang Estate and the works area at Nam Fung Road will be shipped away via the barging point.

The above works areas proposed by DSD and MTRCL are not planned for permanent use.  The locations of the various facilities and their respective distance from the closest residential building are shown in the plan attached.

(b) The preliminary sewage treatment works as well as the concrete batching plant mentioned in the question have been in existence before Wah Kwai Estate, Ka Lung Court and South Horizons were built.  The operation of these facilities has been in compliance with the law.  The preliminary sewage treatment works that mainly serves the development in Aberdeen including Ka Lung Court is zoned "Government, Institution or Community" while the concrete batching plant is zoned "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Aggregate/Cement Handling and Concrete Batching Area" on the Approved Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau Outline Zoning Plan No. S/H15/24.  These two pieces of land were zoned for the above uses in 1970 and 1983 respectively.  No similar facilities have been planned in the Tin Wan area thereafter.

(c) The upgrading of the sewage treatment works in Tin Wan forms part of the HATS Stage 2A.  The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of HATS Stage 2A was approved by the Director of Environmental Protection under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance on October 30, 2008.  According to the findings of the EIA report, with the incorporation of prevention and mitigation measures, the upgrading works and future operation of the sewage treatment works in Tin Wan will comply with all relevant environmental standards and regulations with no unacceptable environmental impacts on residents in the neighbourhood.  The current operation of the sewage treatment works in Tin Wan is environmentally acceptable and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has not received any complaint about it.

The MTRCL has engaged consultants to conduct an EIA study for the South Island Line (East) Project.  The study will examine in detail the environmental impacts arising from the construction and operation of the project, and propose improvement and mitigation measures accordingly, including the provision of temporary construction and demolition material barging points.  EPD has drawn the attention of MTRCL to the residents' concerns about the potential environmental impacts arising from the project so that MTRCL will fully consider and examine those concerns.  Upon completion of the EIA study, MTRCL is also required to make the report and findings of the study available for public inspection.  EPD will decide whether to approve the EIA report after taking full account of the views of the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment.

The operation of the concrete batching plant in Tin Wan is subject to the control of the specified process licence issued under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance.  When applying for the licence, the applicant had submitted an air pollution control plan to assess the air quality that might be affected and the risk to human health in the plant's vicinity.  So far, EPD has found no irregularities of the concrete batching plant.  The environmental monitoring results also reveal that the operation of the plant is in compliance with the requirements of the specified process licence.  The environmental monitoring results have been provided to the Southern District Council (SDC) by EPD on a regular basis.

(d) The SDC has been concerned about the arrangement for the land currently occupied by the concrete batching plant at Tin Wan Praya Road upon the expiry of the current lease.  The issue has been discussed many times at the meetings of the District Development and Environment Committee (DDEC) under the SDC.  The DDEC was informed on January 2 this year by the Lands Department (LandsD) that the lease of the concrete batching plant would expire on March 31 this year.  At the DDEC's meeting on February 23 this year, the representative of LandsD reported that the tenant of the concrete batching plant had applied for lease renewal on January 16 this year.  The DDEC immediately opposed to the application.  The tenant has now withdrawn his renewal application.  The concrete batching plant at Tin Wan Praya Road will cease operation on April 1 this year.

The Focus Group on Planning and Development of South Island Line under the SDC (Focus Group) has discussed many times MTRCL's proposal of setting up a temporary construction and demolition material barging point at the waterfront of Kellett Bay.  Some members of the Focus Group urged MTRCL to consider other locations.  To mitigate the impact to the neighbourhood arising from the barging point at Kellett Bay, in addition to carrying out the EIA study, MTRCL has proposed to plant trees and shrubs and provide park facilities on the vacant site adjacent to the barging point for greenery along the waterfront of Kellett Bay facing Wah Kwai Estate.  With the introduction of appropriate temporary traffic measures, the impact on traffic, the environment and local community brought by the project is to be kept to a minimum.  At the meeting on March 11, 2009, the Focus Group agreed that the Government should gazette the project under the Railways Ordinance (Cap 519) in mid-2009 for formal public consultation and handling of objection in accordance with the legal procedures.  The Government would continue to explain to the District Councillors and local community the justifications for setting up a temporary barging point at Kellett Bay.

(e) The works at Tin Wan Praya Road under the HATS Stage 2A are scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2009 for completion in 2014.  DSD will then surrender the three sites it has temporarily acquired to LandsD.

The temporary construction and demolition material barging point, which MTRCL has proposed to build at Kellett Bay, will start operation when the works of the South Island Line (East) commence in 2011.  Upon completion of the project in 2015, MTRCL will remove the facility and revert the land to the Government.

The concrete batching plant in Tin Wan, situated on the only site zoned for concrete batching on Hong Kong Island, is also the primary source of concrete supply for the Island.  Concrete must be delivered to construction sites for use within a short time after production.  It is therefore necessary to retain at least one site for a concrete batching plant on the Island to meet the demand of the construction works on Hong Kong Island.  The Planning Department (PlanD) has conducted a site search exercise to identify a suitable alternative site on the Island for concrete batching.  However, none of the 35 sites identified is suitable due to incompatible land use, large scale tree felling and/or traffic problems.  PlanD is now conducting a new round of site search and plans to brief the DDEC on its findings by mid 2009.  Although the current operator in Tin Wan will cease operation on April 1, 2009, any decision to change the land use of the site still depends on whether the Government can identify an alternative site for concrete batching on the Island.

As regards the sewage treatment works, there is no plan for relocation in view of its prescribed service coverage and sound operation.

Ends/Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Issued at HKT 16:36