EPD to initiate prosecution against illegal dumping of construction waste at Tsim Bei Tsui, Deep Bay

     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (April 6) said that, following a thorough investigation into the illegal dumping of construction waste and land filling incident at Tsim Bei Tsui in Deep Bay, the case involves contravention of the Waste Disposal Ordinance and the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance. The EPD is now consolidating the evidence and proceeding with the preparations for instituting prosecution against the suspected parties, including the responsible person on-site, the transportation contractor and a lorry driver.

     In December last year, illegal land filling activities were reported to have taken place at the area around Tsim Bei Tsui. After site inspections conducted by relevant government departments, it was found that an area with natural mangroves was excavated and covered by fill materials. The affected area covers about one hectare, with most of this area being government land and a part on private land. According to the Lau Fau Shan & Tsim Bei Tsui Outline Zoning Plan, the bulk of the landfilled area is largely zoned "Site of Special Scientific Interest" (SSSI) whilst a small part is zoned "Green Belt".

     An EPD spokesman said that the parties are suspected of carrying out dumping of construction waste, illegal land filling and excavation works on government land zoned as SSSI, without prior permission from any government department.

     According to the Waste Disposal Ordinance, any person who disposes of waste at government land or without the permission from land owners contravenes the ordinance. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. A maximum fine of $500,000 and six months' imprisonment may be imposed on second or subsequent convictions. In addition, a daily fine of $10,000 may be imposed for a continuing offence. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, excavation or other construction work to be conducted at an SSSI requires an environmental permit issued prior to the work. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and six months' imprisonment.

     The Government attaches great importance to tackling the incident. An inter-departmental working group, comprising the EPD, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), the Planning Department (PlanD) and the Lands Department (LandsD), was immediately set up to investigate and follow up on the incident. LandsD fenced off the area and various departments stepped up inspections to stop any further dumping and land filling activities. As the case involves unauthorised development on private land zoned "Green Belt", PlanD took enforcement action to require the land owner to stop the unauthorised development.

     The spokesman said, "The government departments under the working group will continue to follow up on the case. As investigations and follow-up actions are still under way, further enforcement action and prosecution may be taken in addition to the prosecutions to be initiated by the EPD. The AFCD is also examining ways to restore the affected area to safeguard the ecology of the Tsim Bei Tsui area."

     The spokesman reminded members of the public that whilst proper storage or reuse of construction waste is a beneficial use of resources, the specific usage and operation must comply with all relevant laws in Hong Kong, including environmental protection laws and the Town Planning Ordinance. The usage and operation should have prior consent from land owners or lawful occupiers, and the EPD must be notified beforehand in accordance with the Waste Disposal Ordinance. Otherwise, the activity constitutes illegal dumping of construction waste. The EPD will continue to collaborate with relevant government departments to take strict action against all activities involving illegal dumping of construction waste.

Ends/Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:00