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Government proposes to reduce Frontier Closed Area

    The Government proposes to reduce substantially the coverage of the Frontier Closed Area (FCA) following a review taking into account the latest security concerns within the FCA and the required security measures for safeguarding the integrity and security of the boundary.

     "We propose that the FCA should in most places be reduced to become the area between the southern edge of the existing boundary patrol road and the boundary between Hong Kong and the Mainland," a Government spokesman said today (September 7).

     "This means a reduction of the FCA from about 2,800 to about 800 hectares. As the closed area permit requirement will not be enforced in the excised area, it is expected that over half of the people residing within the current FCA will no longer need a closed area permit to enter or leave the excised area, for example, those in the villages of Shan Tsui, Heung Yuen Wai, Chuk Yuen, Ta Kwu Ling, Sandy Ridge, Lo Wu, Liu Pok and Ha Wan Tsuen, etc. Others who cannot access the excised area now may do so without the need of a closed area permit.

     "For most parts of the FCA, our assessment is that boundary integrity may be maintained with the coverage of the FCA reduced through the adoption of suitable security enhancement measures, chiefly the erection of a secondary boundary fence," he said.

     At present, the boundary patrol road is lined by a fence, mostly along its northern edge. The Government proposes to construct a secondary boundary fence on the other edge of the road so as to enclose the road and to protect the primary boundary fence, with its sensors, from deliberate or inadvertent interference.

     The spokesman said, "The proposal strikes a balance between the need for safeguarding boundary security and addressing public aspirations for minimising the FCA restrictions.

     "This will help to ensure the effective implementation of Police enforcement strategies to safeguard boundary security and to prevent and combat illegal immigration and other cross-boundary crimes."

     With the revision of FCA boundary, closed area restrictions will apply mainly to areas of boundary crossing - the boundary control points and Sha Tau Kok.

     "Sha Tau Kok Town centre is where Chung Ying Street is located. Given its historical background, it is the only point where people and goods may cross the boundary, without all the measures and facilities at other boundary control points, making it susceptible to illegal immigration and goods smuggling problems," the Government spokesman said.

     Nonetheless, the Government proposes to reduce the FCA around Sha Tau Kok northwards up to "Gate One" (the entrance to Sha Tau Kok Town).

     In addition, to facilitate the development of eco-tourism, the Government is prepared to allow organised tour groups to use the Sha Tau Kok public pier to access the outer islands and the east coasts of the northern New Territories during weekends and public holidays. "This may be put in place once an agreement is reached with the Sha Tau Kok community," said the spokesman.

     The revised FCA boundary will take effect after the completion of the secondary boundary fence, estimated to be around 2010.

     In parallel with the preparation for the secondary boundary fence, the Planning Department will embark on a planning study for the land to be excised from the FCA.

     "The study, including a Strategic Environmental Assessment, will examine the development potential and constraints of the study area and identify suitable future uses with a view to formulating a planning framework to guide the conservation and development of the area under the principle of sustainable development," the spokesman said.

     The findings of the study will provide the basis for the preparation of statutory land use plans.

     "The public will be extensively consulted during the study process," the spokesman said.

Ends/Thursday, September 7, 2006
Issued at HKT 18:43