Lands Department steps up enforcement against unauthorised structures on private agricultural land (with photos)

     The Lands Department (LandsD) conducted a three-day operation from May 27 to 29 in which three large unauthorised structures being erected on Lot No. 2507 s.A R.P. in D.D. 120 at Lam Hau Yuen, Yuen Long, New Territories, and the adjoining government land were demolished and the government land was repossessed.
     LandsD received a complaint earlier and confirmed that there were structures illegally occupying government land and encroaching on the adjoining private agricultural land as mentioned above. A statutory notice was issued under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, requiring that the unauthorised structures be demolished. However, the parties concerned failed to demolish the structures before the deadline specified in the statutory notice.

     Meanwhile, a spokesman for the department reminded land owners to comply with the conditions stipulated in the relevant land lease. He also urged people who hired structures on agricultural land to check whether the structures were in breach of lease or legislation, so as to avoid losses or liability in the event of demolition by the Government in the future.

     "The Government attaches great importance to the proper control on land use. Following an earlier review of the unauthorised structures on private agricultural land, we have devised measures to step up enforcement action using the authority under the private lease and/or under the existing legislation and strengthen enforcement action against unauthorised structures on private agricultural land, including those under construction," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman said these measures specifically include:

(1) Once it has come to LandsD's attention through patrol or receipt of complaints/referrals that an unauthorised structure is being erected on private agricultural land, a warning letter will be issued requiring the lot owner to stop works and to demolish the structure. If the lot owner fails to comply, LandsD will take up the demolition under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance with a view to demolishing such structures before completion of the works and occupation of the structures respectively. The cost so incurred will be recovered from the lot owner.

(2) For unauthorised structures on private agricultural land which have been completed and where the breach is not purged despite imposition of encumbrances, LandsD will, as a standard practice, proceed with re-entry of the private agricultural land in question under lease and the Government Rights (Re-entry and Vesting Remedies) Ordinance. In case the ex-owner of the private agricultural land seeks relief against re-entry under the Government Rights (Re-entry and Vesting Remedies) Ordinance, the Government may impose such conditions as it deems appropriate (e.g. demolition of the unauthorised structure) if relief is granted. Depending on the caseloads to be dealt with at any one time, individual District Lands Offices may have to prioritise the cases in hand and proceed first with those which are more serious in terms of scale and/or potential hazards and nuisances.

     LandsD has stepped up enforcement actions since the introduction of these measures last month. It also re-entered the land located at Lot No. 2340 in D.D. 120 at Lam Hi Road, Yuen Long, and Lot No. 1813 in D.D. 118 at Sung Shan New Village, Yuen Long, New Territories, on May 23 under lease and the Government Rights (Re-entry and Vesting Remedies) Ordinance. A number of unauthorised structures were earlier identified on the above sites and the breaches were not purged despite "imposing an encumbrance".

Ends/Thursday, May 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:31