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LCQ13: Flytipping in Nam Sang Wai of Yuen Long

     Following is a question by Hon Albert Ho Chun-yan and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (February 4):


     It has been reported that in recent months, waste and materials have been fly-tipped by people on a piece of government land of conservation value in Nam Sang Wai of Yuen Long, but the government departments concerned did not take immediate actions to stop such activities. Some environmentalists suspected that land-filling activities were conducted to ruin the ecological value of the land concerned, hoping that it would be easier to get approval for the relevant application for changing land use. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of complaints about fly-tipping of waste or materials on government and private land within "conservation area" or "village type development" zones received by the Government in the past two years and, among them, the respective numbers of cases which have been dealt with, have yet to be dealt with, as well as cases in respect of which prosecutions were instituted, and those in which the persons involved were convicted;

(b) of the number of lots within "conservation area" zones where the environment had been damaged by fly-tipping of waste or illegal land-filling activities in the past five years, the locations of such lots, the numbers of Reinstatement Notices issued by various government departments in respect of each of the lots, as well as the requirements set out in such Notices (including the actions required to be taken by the persons concerned);

(c) of the number of applications for changing land use received by the Town Planning Board in the past five years involving sites within "conservation area" or "village type development" zones where the environment had been damaged by fly-tipping activities; the number of such applications approved and the reasons for granting the approval; and whether the Government has taken measures to prevent any person from getting approval more easily for an application to change the land use of a piece of land by conducting fly-tipping activities to ruin the ecological value of that land; and

(d) whether it will consider increasing the penalty for fly-tipping activities; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     After receiving complaint about illegal dumping at Nam Sang Wai in November 2008, relevant Government departments have coordinated actions and conducted many inspections at the spot. On November 26, 2008, the District Lands Office (Yuen Long) (DLO(YL)) posted a notice under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance requiring the relevant person(s) to cease the occupation of the Government land with filled materials and on December 31, 2008 also took joint actions with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Hong Kong Police Force and the Drainage Services Department clearing the filled materials (used for vehicular access) deposited on the natural stream. Both DLO(YL) and EPD are investigating the case; and if there is sufficient evidence, will initiate prosecution against the relevant person(s) under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance and the Waste Disposal Ordinance. The DLO(YL) and EPD will continue to follow up on clearing the remaining filled materials and monitor the site.

     Reply to the 4 parts of the Question is as follows:

(a) The 2007 and 2008 figures regarding the complaints and enforcement action of Planning Department taken under the Town Planning Ordinance against the unauthorised filling of land/pond within the "Conservation Area" ("CA") and "Village Type Development" ("V") zones are described in Table 1.

     Among the 156 complaint cases on alleged unauthorised land/pond filling, 130 are either not unauthorised development under the Town Planning Ordinance or in the process of follow-up and monitoring.

     The Lands Department (LandsD) and the EPD also handled complaints against illegal dumping but their record do not provide breakdown statistics on "Conservation Area" and "Village Type Development". The LandsD received 1,935 complaints (including referrals from other departments) during 2007 to 2008 on illegal dumping activities on Government land. All materials illegally dumped on Government land would be cleared regardless of the zoning.

     The figures regarding the complaints and enforcement action of EPD against deposition of wastes (including construction and demolition (C&D) waste, household waste and others) are described in Table 2.

(b) In the past five years, six cases involving filling of land/pond within the "CA" zone were confirmed as unauthorised development under the Town Planning Ordinance, details of which are summarised in Table 3.

     Reinstatement Notice had been issued against four cases which mainly required the notice recipients to reinstate the site by grassing the land; removal of filled materials/leftover/debris; or planting of trees. The enforcement/prosecution actions on the other two cases are still on-going.

(c) Under normal circumstances, the Town Planning Board (TPB) would not give favourable consideration to applications involving unauthorised land/pond filling. For those unauthorised land/pond filling without planning permission, the Planning Department would take enforcement actions under the Town Planning Ordinance.

     In the past five years, the TPB had received a total of 782 planning applications for various uses and development under the conservation-related zones and "V" zones. Out of these, there were 13 planning applications for land/pond filling within the "CA" or "V" zones, amongst which seven had involved unauthorised land/pond filling undertaken before planning applications were submitted. Amongst these seven applications, four were approved with conditions by the Town Planning Board and three were rejected. One approved application was related to land filling for agricultural use and three approved applications were related to land filling for New Territories Exempted House development. These applications were approved by the Town Planning Board taking into account that the proposed land uses were always permitted and the fact that the land filling was small in scale.

(d) For greater deterrent effect, subsequent to the amendment of the Town Planning Ordinance in 1995, the maximum fines for the offence of carrying out unauthorised development had been substantially increased, i.e. increasing from $100,000 to $500,000 for first conviction and a fine of $1,000,000 was added for subsequent conviction. The maximum daily fines were also increased from $10,000 to $50,000 for first conviction and a daily fine of $100,000 for subsequent conviction was added. Since 1995, the fines imposed for the convicted cases involving unauthorised land/pond filling had ranged from $2,000 to $55,000, with an average fine of about $29,000 per case. Hence, there is no need to increase the maximum fine for the offence under the Town Planning Ordinance for the time being.

     Under the Waste Disposal Ordinance, any person who deposits waste, without the consent of the owner or legal occupier, commits an offence and is liable for the first offence, to a fine of $200,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months; and for subsequent offence, to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for 6 months. EPD's record shows that the average fine imposed by the court in the past year is about $7,500. Three of the convictions were against dump truck drivers and each was fined $10,000.

     We consider that there is sufficient deterrent against illegal land filling with the existing penalty. In case the penalty handed down is too lenient or insufficient to reflect the severity of the offence, the EPD will apply via the Secretary of Justice for review or appeal of the verdict.

     In addition, the Administration is considering different options to further regulating the deposition of C&D materials on private land, including amending the Waste Disposal Ordinance to require prior permission from the Director of Environmental Protection; and extending the trip ticket system in operation for public works projects to private projects to strengthen the monitoring of the C&D materials at source. We will consult relevant stakeholders on the viable options identified.

Ends/Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Issued at HKT 18:06


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