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LCQ5: Nuisance caused to Kwun Tong residents by public cargo working areas, scrap metal recovery factory and refuse transfer station

    Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (June 25):


    It has been reported that the public cargo working areas ("PCWAs") in Kwun Tong and Cha Kwo Ling as well as the scrap metal recovery factory nearby have been causing much nuisance to the residents of the district (e.g. Laguna City) over the years.  The Berth Licence Agreements for the two PCWAs will expire next month, yet the authority concerned is planning to extend the operation period of the existing operators for three years and then a refuse transfer station will be built at the Cha Kwo Ling PCWA site. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  whether it will consider withdrawing its plan to extend the operation period of the two PCWAs for three years so as to vacate the land for immediately building a waterfront promenade; if it will not, of the reasons for that;

(b)  of the measures in place to address the nuisance caused by the operations of the scrap metal recovery factory and PCWAs to the residents of Laguna City; and

(c)  whether it has consulted the residents of the district on its plan to build a refuse transfer station at the Cha Kwo Ling PCWA site; if it has, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

(a)  The Government's long-term planning intention is to decommission the public cargo working areas ("PCWA") in Kwun Tong and Cha Kwo Ling to make way for the proposed development and other related projects set out in the Kai Tak Outline Zoning Plan.

    As there are no suitable sites at East Kowloon for reprovisioning the Kwun Tong and Cha Kwo Ling PCWAs, and that other PCWAs do not have sufficient vacant berths for reprovisioning of the operators in these two PCWAs. The immediate decommissioning of these two PCWAs after the expiry of the existing Berth Licence Agreements in July 2008 is not a suitable or feasible option, as it will seriously affect the livelihood of the operators and those employed at the PCWAs. It is estimated that the two PCWAs provide more than 2,300 jobs and most of these jobs are low skilled ones.

    We fully understand and attach much importance to the public's request for a waterfront promenade. After August 2008, we will make available the vacant berths at part of the Kwun Tong PCWA, i.e. a 200m marine frontage to the south of the PCWA and adjacent to the Kwun Tong Pier and the entrance, for the development of a waterfront promenade. Moreover, we will encourage existing operators at the Kwun Tong and Cha Kwo Ling PCWAs to relocate on a voluntary basis to vacant berths, arising from natural wastage, in other PCWAs.

(b)  The Marine Department (MD) received two complaints concerning noise generated from the Cha Kwo Ling PCWA in the past two years, and none for the PCWA in Kwun Tong. The complaints were mainly about the noise generated from cargo handling as well as about cargo handling activities after the close of the PCWA at night.

    The situation has improved following discussion between staff of the MD and the operators on ways to abate the noise. No further complaints were received. Since November 2005, the duty hours of security guards have been extended from 9pm, when the PCWA closes, to 11pm, to ensure no cargo handling activities are conducted outside the operating hours of the PCWA. MD will continue to extend the duty hours of the security guards from time to time for effective monitoring.

    Regarding the waste recovery yard, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has received 14 noise complaints in the past two years.  Results of the noise measurement made by staff of the EPD showed that, the daytime noise levels at Laguna City's flats had not exceeded the acceptable noise levels. As the waste recovery yard did not produce noise persistently and the background noise in that location was relatively high, EPD could not take any legal action.

    When entering into a short-term tenancy (STT) with the waste recovery yard operator, the Lands Department included a condition stating that the operations of the waste recovery yard should not cause nuisance to residents or owners of the neighbouring lots.  EPD also specified in the STT that the waste recovery yard would have committed a breach of contract, if the noise generated during its operation exceeded the acceptable noise level.

    Separately, the STT also stipulated that the site could not be used for the purpose of recycling scrap metal. Nevertheless, the tenant was found in breach of this condition. The Lands Department terminated the STT accordingly, but the tenant refused to surrender the site. As judicial proceedings have commenced, it will be inappropriate for us to make any comments regarding the case.

(c)  Refuse transfer station is integral to Hong Kong's waste management system. To keep up with the future development of the District and the expanding population, we need to provide a refuse transfer facility which the Kowloon East District now lacks. Based on the South East Kowloon Development Comprehensive Planning and Engineering Review, the Government proposes to build the South East Kowloon Material Recovery and Transfer Station at the disused Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine site and the barging point at a site at the east portion of the decommissioned Cha Kwo Ling PCWA.

    In May 2007, EPD consulted the Kwun Tong District Council on this proposal. Staff of the EPD also met the Laguna City and Cha Kwo Ling Village residents on several occasions and attended residents' meetings to listen to their views.

    We fully understand that there is a general concern among the residents that the refuse transfer station may have adverse effects on the environment, hygiene and transport of the district. In July 2008, EPD will commence a review study on the proposed site of the refuse transfer station. A comparison of the effectiveness of waste management, engineering feasibility, environmental impacts and transport, etc. of the proposed site and other possible alternative sites will be made, to determine the best site for the refuse transfer station. During the study period, EPD will continue to maintain communication with stakeholders in the community.

Ends/Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:49


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