LCQ17: Depositing or dumping of construction waste on private lands
Earlier on, some community groups uncovered that construction waste had been dumped on a piece of wetland zoned Coastal Protection Area in Pui O, Lantau Island. However, the Planning Department (PlanD) stated that the lot concerned was not covered by any Development Permission Area (DPA) Plan while the Lands Department stated that the activities concerned were not in breach of the relevant lease conditions. As a result, neither of these two departments had any enforcement and regulatory power over such activities. On the other hand, under sections 16B and 16C of the Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap 354), a person who intends to deposit construction waste on a private lot must obtain a valid permission of the sole owner or all of the owners of the lot for such depositing activities, without which that person commits an offence. The permission concerned must be given in a form specified by the Director of Environmental Protection (the Director) (specified form), and the form is valid only if it bears an acknowledgement affixed by the Director. The Director will affix an acknowledgement on the specified form only if the form is submitted at least 21 days before the intended date on which the depositing activity is to commence. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of acknowledgements made by the Director in the past five years in respect of activities of depositing construction waste on private lots in South Lantau, the detailed addresses of the lots concerned, and whether the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) sent its staff to:
(i) conduct inspections of the lots concerned; if the EPD did, of the number of inspections and the locations of the lots inspected;
(ii) conduct tests on whether the construction waste deposited had caused environmental pollution; if the EPD did, of the details (including the number of tests, the items tested and the outcome of the tests as well as the locations of the lots concerned); whether the EPD instituted prosecutions against the persons concerned in respect of those cases that had caused environmental pollution; if so, of the details (including the number of cases, the types of pollution caused and the prosecution outcome); and
(iii) verify whether the actual areas, heights and dates of the deposition of construction waste tallied with those stated in the specified forms; if the EPD did, of the details (including the number and the outcome of verifications as well as the locations of the lots concerned); whether the EPD instituted prosecutions against the persons concerned in respect of cases in which the actual circumstances did not tally with the information given in the specified forms; if so, of the details (including the number of cases and the prosecution outcome);
(2) as the EPD has indicated that where dumping of construction waste or landfilling is found to have caused environmental pollution, it may take enforcement actions by invoking other legislation on environmental protection, how the EPD determines whether such type of activities have caused environmental pollution; whether the EPD took this type of law enforcement actions in the past five years; if so, of the number and details of the actions; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) of the factors taken into account by the Director when making acknowledgment decisions; whether the Director will add a time limit for depositing construction waste on the specified form; if so, of the criteria to be adopted; if not, the reasons for that; as some environmentalists have lodged a judicial review in respect of the Director's decision to acknowledge the activities of depositing construction waste on four private lots in Pui O, Lantau Island, whether the Director will withhold making decisions on acknowledging such type of activities in the vicinity of Pui O; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) whether it will introduce legislative amendments expeditiously, so as to plug the existing loophole that the PlanD does not have any enforcement and regulatory power over the lots which are not covered by any DPA Plan; if so, of the details and timetable; if not, the reasons for that?
Activities related to depositing/landfilling of soil or construction waste on private land involve various policy areas. These activities are regulated by existing laws on environment, town planning, land management, buildings, drainage, public safety, public health and/or country park. These laws are enforced by the relevant government departments, which will take actions according to their respective purviews.
Construction waste deposited on private land may be due to illegal fly-tipping, or may be arranged or approved by the lawful occupier of the land for site formation, construction or other purposes. In order to effectively distinguish the illegal fly-tipping of construction waste on private land from the activities arranged or approved by the lawful occupier, so as to enhance the control on illegal fly-tipping of construction waste, the Legislative Council passed the Waste Disposal (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 (Amendment Ordinance) in 2013. With effect from August 4, 2014, any person who intends to deposit construction waste on a piece of private land shall obtain the prior written permission of all land owners of that piece of land given in a specified form. The form shall be submitted to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) together with the relevant information at least 21 days prior to commencing the activity, and shall receive written acknowledgement by the EPD. The Amendment Ordinance allows the EPD to ascertain whether the activity has been arranged or approved by the lawful occupier of the land. It also enables the EPD to alert other relevant government departments, which may then take follow-up actions under their respective purviews to ensure that the intended deposition will comply with the relevant legislative requirements.
(1) Since the amendment of the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) in August 2014, the EPD has acknowledged a total of ten notification forms in South Lantau, including Pui O (seven forms) and Cheung Sha (three forms). The lots concerned and the number of inspections conducted during the depositing periods are as follows:
|Lots concerned||No. of inspections during depositing periods*|
|Lot No. 2402 in D.D.316, Pui O||41|
|Lot No. 2406 in D.D.316, Pui O||41|
|Lot No. 2423 in D.D.316, Pui O||41|
|Lot No. 2356 in D.D.316, Pui O||16|
|Lot No. 2309 in D.D.316, Pui O||70|
|Lot No. 1664 in D.D.316, Pui O||40|
|Lot No. 2366 in D.D.316, Pui O||23|
|^Lot Nos. 496, 497 and 498 in D.D.332, Cheung Sha||2|
|^Lot Nos. 501, 502 and 503 in D.D.332, Cheung Sha||2|
|^Lot Nos. 526, 527, 528 and 529 in D.D.332, Cheung Sha||2|
^ The concerned depositing activities have not commenced.
In the course of depositing/landfilling activities, the EPD regularly inspected the concerned lots and did not detect any non-compliance of the pollution control ordinances.
According to the WDO, the purpose of submitting a notification form to the EPD is to give notification that permissions from all land owners have been obtained for the intended deposition of construction waste on the concerned private lot. Other information (e.g. location, area, height of deposition, etc.) stated in the notification form is supplementary information for reference, which enables the nearby residents or members of the public to learn about the depositing activity.
The construction waste deposition/landfilling activities carried out by the land owners of the concerned lot does not violate the environmental legislation if there is no environmental pollution. However, as mentioned above, before the activity commences, the EPD will alert other relevant government departments which may then take follow-up actions under their respective purviews to ensure that the intended deposition will comply with the relevant legislative requirements.
(2) Construction waste deposition/landfilling activities on private land causing environmental pollution such as dust, noise or effluent nuisance is regulated by the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, Noise Control Ordinance and Water Pollution Control Ordinance respectively. The EPD will definitely take enforcement action against any breaches of these Ordinances. Regarding the case of construction waste deposition/landfilling activities with acknowledgement in South Lantau, no breaches of any pollution control legislation have been identified since the implementation of the Amendment Ordinance in August 2014.
(3) Upon receipt of a notification given in the specified form, the EPD will, under section 16C of the WDO, verify the information contained therein. This will include checking the name(s) and information of the owner(s) of the private lot concerned as provided in the specified form against the records on the Land Registry register, as well as confirming that a written permission has been obtained from the land owner(s) of the lot. In addition, the EPD will inform various relevant departments in tandem of the proposed deposition/landfilling of construction waste on the private land and convey their opinions, if any, to the land owner(s). The departments concerned will handle the case and take follow-up action under their respective purviews and the applicable legislation.
Under the WDO, if a person has obtained a written permission from all land owners of the lot and submitted a notification given in the specified form to the EPD, the EPD will acknowledge the specified form and the date of the depositing activity as specified in the form.
As the judicial review in respect of the deposition of construction waste on four private lots in Pui O, South Lantau is awaiting a decision, the EPD will, for the time being, continue to handle applications regarding deposition/landfilling of construction waste according to existing legislation and established procedures.
(4) According to the Planning Department, any amendment to the Town Planning Ordinance will involve complicated technical and legal issues, and due consideration will have to be given to the actual circumstances and the implications on manpower and resources of government departments. At this stage, the Government has no specific proposal or timetable to amend the Town Planning Ordinance, but will closely monitor the situation and take action as appropriate.
Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Issued at HKT 17:38
Issued at HKT 17:38