Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ15: Conservation of country park enclaves

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yuen-han and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (November 18):


     When designating certain sites as country parks in the past, the Government has excluded villages and agricultural lands as well as some adjacent government lands as the buffer area from the boundaries of country parks. There are currently 77 such country park enclaves (enclaves) in Hong Kong. In recent months, some members of the public discovered that land formation works had been carried out in an enclave (namely Wong Chuk Yeung located near Ma On Shan Country Park). The works involved eradicating the plants and soil on a large piece of wetland and felling thousands of trees.  They are worried that such kind of disorganised development will ruin the ecology of those lands, disrupting the balance between development and conservation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the specific location, size and current land use of each enclave, and set out the information by District Council district;

(2) whether the authorities received any application for altering the planned uses of enclaves in the past five years; if they did, of (i) the number of applications approved by the authorities, (ii) the locations of the sites involved in the approved applications, together with their original and altered planned uses, and (iii) the number of approved applications for rezoning for residential use;

(3) whether it has regularly assessed the ecological value of the various enclaves; if it has, of the details (including the assessment criteria adopted); if not, the reasons for that;

(4) of the number of inspections carried out and the number of prosecutions instituted by the authorities in each of the past five years to combat works or developments carried out in enclaves and Green Belt sites that violated their permitted land uses;

(5) whether it is an existing practice of the authorities to designate the enclaves, Green Belt sites and lands within the country parks near the sites for sale as "designated areas" in the Conditions of Sale and stipulate therein that works may be carried out by lessees in the designated areas; if so, of the specific approach and the criteria for determining the size of the "designated areas"; and

(6) given that the authorities have indicated that they adopt certain criteria (including conservation value, landscape and aesthetic value, recreation potential, size, proximity to existing country parks, land status and land use) in assessing whether the enclaves should be incorporated into country parks, of the quantitative indicators of such criteria; the measures to be taken by the authorities to ensure that the ecology around the enclaves will not be ruined by the development projects carried out in the vicinity?



(1) The relevant information is set out in the Annex 1.

(2) There are 77 country park enclaves (enclaves) across the territory, of which 23 had already been covered by Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) before the Sai Wan Incident. As committed in the 2010-11 Policy Address, the Government would either incorporate the remaining 54 enclaves into country parks or cover them by statutory town plans. The Planning Department (PlanD) has completed the preparation of statutory town plans for enclaves in 2014, in that 22 Development Permission Area (DPA) plans covering 30 enclaves with an effective period of three years have been gazetted. The PlanD has taken steps to prepare OZPs to replace the DPA plans. There were 14 DPA plans replaced by OZPs as at mid-November 2015.

     In the past five years (i.e. from November 2010 to October 2015), the Town Planning Board (TPB) did not receive any applications for amendments to the land use zonings of the above 53 enclaves covered by statutory plans. During the same period, the TPB received a total of 102 planning applications not involving rezoning in the areas covered by relevant statutory plans, among which 40 cases were approved by the TPB with conditions, including 31 applications for residential uses (with the major applied uses being New Territories Exempted House, i.e. small house, and redevelopment of house).

(3) We will assess the ecological value of the country park enclaves as and when necessary. For example, in assessing whether an enclave is suitable for incorporation into a country park or to be covered by statutory plan, we will consider a number of factors including its conservation and ecological value.  With regard to the assessment of its ecological value, we will adopt the established criteria which include species and habitat diversities, degree of naturalness, presence of rare species, etc.

(4) The enforcement power of the Planning Authority under the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) (Cap 131) is only confined to areas previously covered by DPA plans in the rural New Territories.  The PlanD will conduct site inspections in DPAs regularly to identify unauthorised developments under TPO.

     In the past five years (i.e. from 2010 to 2014), the breakdown of site inspections carried out and the prosecutions taken by the Planning Authority against the unauthorised developments in the 46 enclaves incorporated into DPAs (Remark 1) , and areas zoned "Green Belt" (Remark 2) are set out in the Annex 2.

     The enforcement work carried out by the Lands Department (LandsD) against unauthorised developments in enclaves and "Green Belt" sites involves unlawful occupation of land; illegal excavation of land; and illegal removal of earth, turf or stone from government land (all of which above are land control actions in respect of government land) and breaches of land lease in respect of private lots (i.e. lease enforcement actions). Regarding land control actions in enclaves and "Green Belt" sites, the LandsD, in response to complaints or referrals, carried out a total of 578 inspections and initiated 11 prosecutions (comprising five prosecutions against illegal removal of earth, turf or stone, two prosecutions against illegal excavation of government land and four prosecutions against unlawful occupation of government land) from January 1, 2010 to September 30, 2015. Of the 11 prosecution cases, seven have led to conviction. As for lease enforcement actions in respect of private land, the LandsD, in response to complaints and referrals, carried out a total of 44 inspections and issued 24 written warnings during the same period.

     If any suspected illegal development is detected in the country park enclaves when the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) conducts regular patrol in country parks, the AFCD will report to the relevant departments such as the LandsD and PlanD for their attention and follow up action.  In the past five year (i.e. 2010-2014), the numbers of patrol involving enclaves by year are 139, 2224, 2172, 2188 and 1619.  

(5) When drafting the Conditions of Sale, the LandsD will consult the relevant government departments regarding the appropriate terms to be included. Where the professional departments concerned, in the light of needs, request that certain studies or measures (collectively referred to as "measures") be undertaken on government land outside the lot for sale by the future owner, the relevant land would be marked as designated areas on the land sale plan and the requirements of the professional departments will be set out in the Conditions of Sale.

     In the event that the area outside the lot for sale where measures considered necessary by the professional departments are to be implemented involves country park, the LandsD will, when drafting the Conditions of Sale, consult the AFCD, and relevant conditions will be incorporated with the consent of the AFCD. In implementing the measures according to the procedures stated in the Conditions of Sale (for example, to obtain prior approval from the government departments), the lot owner is still required to comply with the controls of the Country Parks Ordinance. Designated areas involving land within the "Green Belt" zone under the OZP are subject to TPO. If the lot owner is required to undertake measures within the designated areas under the Conditions of Sale, the lot owner must ensure that such measures are in compliance with the requirements of the relevant legislation.

(6) The AFCD adopts established principles and criteria, which include the conservation value, landscape and aesthetic value, recreation potential, size, proximity to existing country parks, land status and land use compatibility and other relevant considerations, to assess whether a site is suitable to be designated as a country park. In the course of assessing the ecological and conservation values, the AFCD will assess its species and habitat diversity, degree of naturalness, presence of rare species, etc. Although there are no quantitative indicators for the assessment criteria, the AFCD will make reference to the past experiences in designating country parks and exercise professional judgment before recommending those enclaves that meet the assessment principles and criteria for inclusion into country parks. The AFCD will consult the Country and Marine Parks Board and the relevant stakeholders on the country park designation proposals before commencing the statutory procedure under the Country Parks Ordinance.

     During regular patrol of the AFCD staff at country parks, if any suspected illegal development is detected in the country park enclaves, the AFCD will report to the relevant government departments such as the LandD and PlanD for their attention and follow up action.

* Remark 1: Among the 53 enclaves already covered by statutory plans, the enforcement power of the Planning Authority is only confined to those 46 enclaves incorporated into DPAs.

* Remark 2: They only include the "Green Belt" zones outside the enclaves.

Ends/Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:58


Print this page