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LCQ19: Cavern development
     Following is a question by the Hon Edward Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (June 1):
     The Cavern Master Plan (CMP) published by the Civil Engineering and Development Department at the end of 2017 delineates a total of 48 Strategic Cavern Areas (SCVAs) in the territory which are available for development, with a view to increasing land supply. In addition, the Government is currently taking forward a number of cavern development projects to relocate government facilities to caverns, but none of the caverns involved in such projects are located on Hong Kong Island. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of cavern development projects which are being taken forward by the Government, and set out, by the name of such projects in a table, the relevant details and the latest progress (including the dates for commencement and anticipated completion);
(2) whether it has plans to take forward cavern development projects at the 11 SCVAs located on Hong Kong Island; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will consider taking forward the development of such SCVAs as early as possible, so as to optimise the use of the precious land resources on Hong Kong Island;
(3) of the existing criteria for determining the order of priority for the development of SCVAs; and
(4) as the Explanatory Statement of CMP has mentioned that the land uses with potential for development in caverns include retail and recreational facilities, whether the Government has plans to provide such facilities in one of the SCVAs as a pilot project?
     To support the sustainable development of Hong Kong, it is the established policy of the Government to adopt a multi-pronged approach to enhance land supply. The hilly and hard rock terrain of Hong Kong makes it highly suitable for developing caverns, particularly on the urban fringes. Accordingly, the Government is actively exploring the use of cavern development to expand the land resources of Hong Kong. The relocation of suitable government facilities to caverns can on one hand release the existing sites for housing and other uses to meet community needs, and on the other hand can relocate facilities that are incompatible with the land uses nearby for improvement of the urban layout.
     The Development Bureau (DEVB) has promulgated the policy guidelines in relation to cavern development for enhancing land supply in December 2017, including a Cavern Master Plan (CMP) and associated planning and technical guidelines, as well as studying the feasibility on relocating/accommodating suitable government facilities into caverns and implementing feasible cavern development projects progressively.
     In response to the question raised by the Hon Leung, having consulted the relevant bureaux/departments, the reply is as follows:
(1) The Government is taking forward a number of projects for relocating/accommodating government facilities into caverns. These facilities, which involve different bureaux/departments, are scattered in different districts and of various types including sewage treatment works, fresh water/salt water service reservoirs, water treatment works, store, archives centre, material testing laboratory and refuse transfer station. Relevant details and latest progress of these projects are at Annex.
(2) At present, there are various government facilities, including Stanley Sewage Treatment Works, Island West Transfer Station and Western Salt Water Service Reservoir, located inside caverns on Hong Kong Island. The Government is now seeking funding approval from the Legislative Council for relocating part of the ancillary facilities of the Department of Health (the stores of emergency response supplies and personal protective equipment) of the Victoria Public Mortuary into the Strategic Cavern Area of ​​Mount Davis. Moreover, the Government plans to commence a feasibility study on the relocation of the Shau Kei Wan Low Level Salt Water Service Reservoir to caverns this year.
(3) and (4) The CMP aims to provide a broad strategic planning framework for the reference of government departments, and public and private sectors during implementation of their projects, on whether there are suitable cavern sites nearby to accommodate their facilities. At present, the CMP has identified 48 locations with potential for cavern development in Hong Kong. Its Explanatory Statement also provides related planning and technical information, including a list of land uses that can be considered for cavern development, such as retail, storage, archives centres, recreation, sewage/water treatment facilities, service reservoirs, testing laboratories, waste transfer facilities and public utility facilities for the reference of users.
     In order to actively promote cavern development, the Government has conducted regular review of its facilities since 2020, and carry out feasibility studies, investigation and design for facilities suitable for relocation to caverns. The DEVB has also issued internal guidelines requiring all departments, at their preliminary planning of new refuse transfer stations, sewage treatment works and service reservoirs, to first assess whether these facilities can be accommodated into suitable cavern sites nearby before considering other options. Moreover, the DEVB stipulates that when conducting planning and engineering studies for large-scale land development projects, relevant departments have to give due consideration to accommodating new facilities with potential for cavern development into caverns, with a view to freeing up more vacant sites under limited land resources for achieving more valuable land arrangement. The cavern development projects currently underway have already covered a variety of land uses, while there are no cavern development projects for retail and recreational facilities yet. At present, the Government also has no plan to implement relevant projects.
Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:00
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