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LCQ11: Storage of skips
     Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (May 10):
     In 2017, the Government respectively made available two sites, one adjacent to Tseung Kwan O (TKO) Area 137 Fill Bank and the other at Siu Lang Shui Road in Tuen Mun West, for use by the skips trade for storing skips. Some skips operators are of the view that the two sites can only meet part of the demand for skips storage in the market. They are also worried that when proceeding with the residential development projects in TKO Area 137, the Government will resume the site concerned, and the shortage of skip storage sites will become more acute by then. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the current occupancy situation of the aforesaid two skip storage sites;
(2) given that after the aforesaid two sites have been made available, the Government has indicated that it will continue to identify suitable sites for leasing to skips operators by way of short-term tenancies for storage of empty skips, of the number of such sites, and set out the following information by site location: area, number of skips that can be stored, occupancy rate and duration of tenancy;
(3) whether it will resume the site adjacent to TKO Area 137 Fill Bank, which is currently used for storing skips, for the purpose of developing residential projects; if so, of the expected time for resuming the site, and whether it will provide an alternative site for storing skips; and
(4) whether it will consider allowing "double stacking" of skips that are stored in the skip storage sites, so as to increase the number of skips that can be stored; if so, of the details; if not, the measures to be put in place by the Government to solve the problem of shortage of skip storage sites?

     The Government attaches great importance to addressing the impact of roadside skips on the surrounding environment and road traffic, and has thus set up a Joint Working Group on Management of Roadside Skips (Working Group) to better co-ordinate the work of all relevant policy bureaux and departments in managing roadside skips. The Working Group liaises closely with the skips trade to understand their needs, and identifies suitable sites for leasing by way of short-term tenancy (STT) through tender to the trade for storing empty skips.
     In consultation with the Development Bureau, a consolidated reply to the question raised is as follows: 
     According to our observations and understanding with the trade, skips are mainly placed where they are being used, such as construction sites, renovation sites, shopping arcades, residential estates or public facilities. There are also some skips mounted on trailers, being used for transportation of waste, or being stored in private parking areas. The number of empty skips that require a designated storage site is small. Since 2016, the Government has leased, under STT through tender, two sites to the skips trade for storing empty skips, amongst which the site adjacent to Tseung Kwan O Area 137 (TKO 137) Fill Bank can store about 120 skips. Its present average occupancy rate is over 90 per cent. The other site at Siu Lang Shui in Tuen Mun can store around 80 skips, and its present average occupancy rate is over 70 per cent.
     To optimise the use of a piece of formed urban land of about 80 hectares in TKO 137, the Government plans to, as set out in the 2022 Policy Address, develop TKO 137 into a new community primarily for housing purposes, providing about 50 000 residential units to meet the keen housing demand in society. The target of the Government is to commence the works concerned in 2025 to enable the first population intake in 2030 at the earliest. According to the Preliminary Outline Development Plan, the site currently leased to the skips trade for storing skips in TKO 137 will become part of the new community. To tie in with the future housing development in TKO 137, the Working Group will duly liaise with the relevant departments for necessary arrangements, and will keep a close dialogue with the skips trade throughout the process.
     With the assistance from the Lands Department, a site adjacent to Tsing Nam Street in Tsing Yi was leased to the skips trade in March this year to facilitate their operation. The site, with a total area of about 845 square metres, is far away from residential areas and it is estimated that it can store about 20 skips. The site, with an STT term of three years certain and thereafter quarterly, is expected to commence operation in the middle of this year. The Working Group is also exploring the feasibility of leasing another site of approximately 5 000 square metres on Lantau Island to the skips trade. According to preliminary estimation, the site can store about 100 skips.
     The Working Group has also explored with the skips trade the feasibility of using double-deck racks for storing more skips. However, the design, production, installation and dismantling of double-deck racks take time, and there are limits on the load-bearing capacity of site platforms as well as power supply on site. Besides, the cost of investing in double-deck racks will be shifted to users eventually and the financial arrangement is not attractive. The skips trade thus considers it more feasible to increase the amount of storable skips through administration means. Some operators have already purchased skips of varied sizes to store more skips within the same storage area by placing smaller skips inside larger ones. 
     With the provision of storage space for about 20 skips at the new site in Tsing Yi and the use of the site on Lantau Island, it is anticipated that additional storage space for up to about 120 skips will be available in the second half of next year, which is an increase of 60 per cent over the current storage space. In addition, the skips trade can increase storage capacity by stacking up their skips to meet short-term demand. We believe that the above measures will help address the operational needs and demand for skip storage space of the skips trade. The Working Group will continue to listen to the views of the trade. Apart from identifying suitable sites, the Working Group will also actively study and explore all feasible ways to increase the storage capacity of each storage site.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:05
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