Following is a question by the Hon James Tien Pei-chun and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):
Early this year, the Government identified 25 potential reclamation sites outside Victoria Harbour for public consultation, and six of them are in Ma On Shan, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O. Residents from these districts have pointed out to me a number of times that the six sites are either areas with picturesque natural landscapes, important ecological environments, or fish farms; therefore, many people in and outside these districts oppose the Government reclaiming these sites. Some residents have further pointed out that given the lack of public bathing beaches in Tolo Harbour of New Territories East at present, the authorities should designate one of the suggested reclamation sites, namely the Wu Kai Sha Beach, as a gazetted beach (commonly known as "statutory beach"). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the progress of the technical studies conducted by the authorities in respect of reclamation in the aforesaid 25 sites, and the estimated time for making public the outcome of the studies and the list of possible reclamation sites for further consideration;
(b) whether it will, as a priority measure, remove Wu Kai Sha Beach, which is closest to residential areas, from the list of potential reclamation sites and designate it as a statutory beach; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) given that the Government has indicated that when selecting reclamation sites, it will attach importance to the impact on the community and fully consider the views of members of the public, whether the authorities will remove the other five sites from the list of potential sites, so as to ease the worries of the residents as early as possible?
The Government has pursued a multi-pronged strategy for increasing land supply, reclamation outside Victoria Harbour being one of the options to develop land resources and build up land reserves for Hong Kong. This strategy will facilitate the disposal of surplus public fill and contaminated sediments generated from redevelopment, infrastructure projects, building works and fairway dredging.
Under the Stage 1 public engagement (PE) exercise for Enhancing Land Supply Strategy: Reclamation Outside Victoria Harbour and Rock Cavern Development launched in November last year, we proposed eight initial selection criteria for identifying possible reclamation sites for discussion at Stage 2 PE. These eight site initial criteria included (i) impact on local community; (ii) site location and accessibility; (iii) meeting local needs; (iv) environmental impacts; (v) environmental benefits; (vi) planning flexibility; (vii) engineering feasibility and (viii) cost effectiveness of new reclamation sites.
At the initial stage of consultation, some respondents commented that these initial criteria were relatively abstract and suggested Government to provide more specific reclamation sites as illustrations to facilitate the public to consider these criteria according to the sustainability principle and from the social, economic and environmental perspectives. In response, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) announced in early January 25 possible reclamation sites, which were divided into four categories (comprising artificial islands, reclamation to connect islands, reclamation upon artificial or disturbed shoreline and reclamation on sites close to natural but not protected shoreline). As we have repeatedly emphasised on many occasions, including public forums, meetings of the Legislative Council Panel on Development and in response to press enquiries, that these 25 possible reclamation sites do not constitute a list of selected reclamation sites. Depending on the public views, the number of reclamation categories and sites may also be reduced or increased. The six sites located at Ma On Shan, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O mentioned in the question by Hon Tien are among the 25 possible reclamation sites put forward by the CEDD. Our aim is to collect public views on the aforementioned selection criteria for reclamation sites.
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) The Stage 1 PE exercise ended in March 2012. We have received through various channels over 50,000 submissions, including those on the above-mentioned 25 possible reclamation sites. As revealed from the response of the Stage 1 PE, a majority of the public supported the land supply strategy of the "six-pronged" approach, which included rezoning, redevelopment, land resumption, reclamation outside the Victoria Harbour, rock cavern development and re-use of ex-quarry sites. Another observation is that there was general consensus on the above-mentioned site selection criteria, which encompassed social, environmental and economic benefits, with particular emphasis on the impacts on the community, environment and marine ecology. We will give special consideration to these site selection criteria. Given the large number of submissions from the public, we need more time to complete the public engagement report, select the reclamation sites and conduct the relevant technical studies. We hope to publish the Stage 1 PE report and propose several possible sites worthy for further consideration for reclamation and rock cavern development to launch the Stage 2 PE exercise in the first quarter of next year.
(b) & (c) I would like to reiterate that the 25 possible reclamation sites announced in January this year do not constitute a list of proposed reclamation sites. Therefore, there is no question of removing any site from the list. By using these sites as illustrations, we have collected many views on the site selection criteria. The public generally agreed to the site selection criteria encompassing social, environmental and economic benefits, with particular emphasis on the impacts on the community, environment and marine ecology. We will adopt these criteria in selecting reclamation sites.
On the designation of Wu Kai Sha beach as a statutory beach, the Home Affairs Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) noted that the Sha Tin District Council (STDC) had discussed the development of this beach and recommended the LCSD to consider, in the light of the future development of Pak Shek, the feasibility of providing a beach nearby. But the LCSD did not have any development programme for the project as it was not a priority item of the STDC. If it is required to consider designating this natural beach as a statutory beach, the LCSD has to take into account many factors including the location of the proposed site, provision of public swimming facilities in the neighbourhood, the condition of the existing beach, water quality of the nearby areas, feasibility of developing supporting facilities, potential impacts on the local residents, land and marine environment, and the views of community groups. The LCSD will consider the feasibility of the project carefully.
Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:47