Following is a question by the Hon Steven Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (April 15):
In order to increase the supply of housing land, the Government is conducting a number of land planning and engineering studies as well as land use reviews (studies/reviews), among which are the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area Planning and Engineering Study, Planning and Engineering Study for Housing Sites in Yuen Long South, and Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung. Regarding assisting farmers affected by resumption of agricultural lands to relocate their farms, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) among the areas covered by the aforesaid three studies/reviews, of the respective areas of agricultural lands the uses of which the authorities have planned to change, and the respective numbers of vegetable, flower and livestock farmers involved in each of the three studies/reviews, whose farms will have to be relocated due to resumption of agricultural lands;
(2) of the Government's existing mechanism to assist farmers affected by resumption of agricultural lands in relocating their farms;
(3) as I have learnt that quite a number of farmers affected by resumption of agricultural lands have encountered difficulties in identifying sites for relocating their farms, of the Government's means to help them overcome such difficulties; in order not to affect the livelihood of farmers, whether the Government will consider implementing the proposal of "identifying sites for relocation prior to removal"; and
(4) given that relocating livestock farms involves demolition and relocation of a number of major facilities, of the Government's means to assist livestock farmers in resolving the problems concerned?
The Government has implemented a number of measures to increase land supply through a multi-pronged approach, including the development of suitable rural area in the New Territories through comprehensive planning and infrastructure provision, to meet housing need and various social and economic development. In the planning for development of rural area in the New Territories, the Government has tried to minimise the impacts on residents and other stakeholders in the area. However, it is inevitable that some existing occupants and users of land would be affected, including some farmers who will not be able to continue their agricultural practices in-situ. Under the existing land resumption and clearance mechanism, there are established compensation and rehousing arrangements, taking care of affected parties, including farmers.
Our reply to parts (1) to (4) is as follows:
(1) The "Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area Planning and Engineering Study" and "Planning and Engineering Study for Housing Sites in Yuen Long South" are still underway. Regarding the "Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung", the Government is still reviewing the public comments collected and conducting the relevant feasibility study. The actual impact of the relevant development proposals on the existing farmers, including the areas of agricultural land to be affected, is yet to be confirmed, subject to the recommendations made in the respective studies.
(2) and (3) Under the established mechanism, affected genuine farmers with their farms for resumption and clearance under public work can purchase or rent private agricultural land elsewhere to continue farming. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will assist the affected farmers who intend to continue farming to discuss with land owners for rental arrangements.
(4) Regarding the affected pig or poultry farmers whose lands are resumed and cleared under public work, their farms are eligible for the ex-gratia allowance (EGA) if their farm structures were registered for such use in the 1982 squatter control survey conducted by the Housing Department, or if their farm structures have been legitimately operating on private agricultural land (i.e. holders of all government permits) even though they were not covered in the 1982 survey. To be eligible for the EGA, the number of each kind of poultry kept must be at least 30.
According to the Food and Health Bureau, in the event that a licensed livestock farm is affected by Government development projects and the licensee considers relocation, he/she should look for a relocation site which can fulfill the requirements set out under the Public Health (Animals and Birds)(Licensing of Livestock Keeping) Regulation (Cap. 139L) with regard to regulation over livestock keeping control, bio-security, environmental protection, etc., as well as requirements under planning and lands legislation and the relevant policy requirements. AFCD will provide assistance as appropriate to farmers.
Ends/Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:34