For discussion EC(96-97)13
on 8 May 1996
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 91 - LANDS DEPARTMENT
Subhead 001 Salaries
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the retention of the following supernumerary post in the Lands Administration Office of the Lands Department for three years with effect from 10 June 1996 -
1 Government Land Agent
(D2) ($95,550 - $101,450)
The existing supernumerary Government Land Agent (GLA)(D2) post heading the Task Force on cleaning up environmental black spots in the New Territories (NT) will lapse on 10 June 1996. The Director of Lands (D of L) requires the continued support of a dedicated directorate officer to tackle the land use environmental problems in the NT.
2. D of L proposes to retain the supernumerary post of GLA for three years from 10 June 1996.
3. In early 1994, we estimated that 700 hectares of agricultural land in the NT were being used for open storage and dumping. Of these, about 550 hectares were recognised as existing uses (EU) and tolerated under the Town Planning Ordinance, while the remaining 150 hectares were unauthorised developments. This unplanned conversion of agricultural land has led to widespread degradation of the countryside, causing flooding, health hazards and major environmental problems. On 29 April 1994, Finance Committee approved the setting up of a multi-disciplinary task force (TFB), initially for five years, in the Lands Department and Planning Department, and the creation of a new capital account block vote in the Lands Department for cleaning up black spots in the NT.
4. The TFB became operational in August 1994 and initiated action in two pilot areas, namely the Pat Heung Pilot Action Area (PHPAA) and the Ha Tsuen/Lau Fau Shan Container Action Area (HTCAA). The PHPAA occupies an area of about 26 hectares comprising about 217 EU undertakings. As the EU undertakings are permissible under the leases and tolerated under the Town Planning Ordinance, and also have an economic contribution , the TFB has embarked on a programme of implementing in-situ improvements by encouraging owners co-operation before taking lease enforcement action. In parallel, the TFB has also sought permission from the Town Planning Board to carry out major improvement works on these undertakings. Up to December 1995, 5.8 hectares of Government land in the PHPAA have been cleared and landscaped. We have also considered in-situ improvements on 40 EU undertakings. We will continue the programme and further assess its effects by end 1996.
5. In the HTCAA, the TFB has actively discussed with the Container Depots and Repairs Association to implement a Code of Practice to bring about improvements in on-site operations by ensuring safety, improving traffic conditions in the vicinity, reducing noise, and beautifying the environment. Thirteen EU container depots occupying about 34 hectares of land are implementing the Code. The TFB is monitoring closely its implementation and effectiveness.
6. Based on the experience gained in the two pilot areas, the TFB commenced action in January 1996 to tackle the open storage problem in the North District East Action Area involving 257 sites occupying 48 hectares. The TFB has also just initiated action on the container storage problem areas in Tuen Mun.
7. In addition to the above, the TFB has been actively working with the Planning Department to identify alternative sites for both open storage and container depots in the container back-up area at San Tin, and the open storage area at Ping Che. It has examined all areas zoned for open storage on the current Outline Zoning Plans or Development Permission Areas in the northern NT. Since most land involved is private land, the TFB is liaising with the Planning Department and other Government departments on the possibility of rezoning further suitable sites as well as providing the infrastructural facilities.
8. The TFB has made a good start in dealing with the long standing land use environmental problems and has examined the scope and complexity of the problems throughout the northern NT using the experience gained in the PHPAA and HTCAA. Based on the scale of the problems and the resources available, the TFB has drawn up a ten-year programme up to 2006 to clean up environmental black spots in the NT. The programme comprises 11 open storage action areas and seven container action areas. It envisages that two open storage areas and one container area will be tackled concurrently at any one time. The TFB has also obtained the endorsement of the programme from the Special Committee on the Cleaning up of Black Spots in the NT set up to monitor the work of the TFB. The schedule of this programme is at Enclosure 1.
9. The current measures taken by the TFB are beginning to show some results, but in the longer term more controversial methods such as legislation, rezoning, voluntary surrender of land, or resumption of land for environmental purposes, may have to be considered. The task to balance economic and environmental considerations is not an easy one. Public co-operation and private sector initiatives are essential in order to achieve the desired results. All these requirements have made the cleaning up of the NT a time-consuming and difficult process, requiring dedicated commitment over a long period of time.
10. D of L has reviewed the progress of work of the TFB and the future commitment. He concludes that he needs the dedicated input of a senior professional at the GLA level to continue to formulate policies and strategies to reduce the land use environmental problems in the NT, and to steer the long term cleaning up programme and monitor its progress. As the existing GLA post is due to lapse on 10 June 1996, D of L proposes its retention for three years. We will review the set up of the TFB in early 1999 having regard to the prevailing situation at the time.
11. The job description for the GLA post and the proposed organisation chart of the TFB are at Enclosures 2 and 3 respectively.
12. The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at MID-POINT is $1,182,600. The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on costs, is $2,352,096. There are no other additional staffing and financial implications.
13. We have included sufficient provision in the 1996-97 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.
14. On 10 June 1994, Finance Committee approved the creation of two supernumerary posts - one GLA and one Chief Estate Surveyor (CES) (D1) - both initially for two years, to head the TFB to deal with land use environmental problems in the NT.
15. We reported progress of the cleaning up exercise to the Planning, Lands and Works Panel of the Legislative Council on 20 December 1994 and 19 March 1996 respectively.
16. In the light of operational experience, D of L advises that the role of the supernumerary post of CES in the TFB has changed and the duties can be undertaken by a non-directorate officer. Thus, the post of CES will lapse on 10 June 1996.
17. The Civil Service Branch supports the ranking and grading of this proposed post as it carries responsibilities and professional policy input appropriate for the D2 level.
18. As we propose to retain the post of GLA on a supernumerary basis, we will report the arrangement, if approved, to the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service in accordance with the agreed procedure.
Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
Enclosure 2 to EC(96-97)13
Overall Role and Objective
As head of the Task Force (Black Spots), the Government Land Agent is responsible to the Principal Government Land Agent (Specialist) for formulating and implementing plans, and co-ordinating activities of the Task Force with departments concerned in tackling the land use environmental problem in the rural New Territories.
To identify areas with the land use environmental problem, to establish the extent of the problem and to prioritise action areas in consultation with other offices in Lands Department and other government departments.
To formulate and review strategies, policies including compensation policy and methods of reducing the impact of the land use environmental problem in the New Territories.
To review relevant ordinances to consider if any existing ordinances need to be amended or if any new ordinances required so as to equip the Task Force with the necessary statutory powers to carry out its duties.
To liaise with the Special Committee on the Cleaning up of Black Spots in the New Territories, district organisations, consultative committees and green groups concerned on the strategies, policies and methods of tackling the land use environmental problem in the New Territories to ensure as much co-operation as possible in achieving the target.
To monitor and review, in liaison with other government departments, the strength and composition of the multi-disciplinary Task Force to maximise its capacity to tackle the problem in an effective and efficient manner to meet the changing operational needs.
Last Updated on 3 December 1998