Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(1)1007
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)


Panel on Planning, Lands and Works

Minutes of meeting held on Thursday, 15 January 1998, at 11:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP (Chairman)
Hon KAN Fook-yee (Deputy Chairman)
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Member attending :

Hon LEE Kai-ming

Members absent :

Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon CHENG Kai-nam

Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP

Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Public officers attending :

Item IV & V

Mr Wilson FUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands/Planning

Item IV

Project Manager
Kowloon, Territory Development Department

Mr James S O CHAN
Chief Engineer
Studies, Territory Development Department

Item V

Assistant Director of Drainage Services/
Operation and Maintenance

Chief Engineer/Land Drainage
Drainage Services Department

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Odelia LEUNG, Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Mary TANG, Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting

(PLC Paper No. CB(1)742)

The minutes of the joint meeting with the Housing Panel on 2 December 1997 were confirmed.

II.Date of next meeting and items for discussion

2.Members agreed to discuss the Small House Policy at the next Panel meeting scheduled for Friday, 27 February 1998, at 10:45 am.

III.Information papers issued since last meeting

(PLC Paper No. CB(1)702 - a letter from the Chairman of Land Executives Association objecting to the proposed contracting out of land resumption work in the New Territories)

3.Members noted the paper.

IV.South East Kowloon Development at Kai Tak Airport - Decontamination and site preparation

(PLC Paper No. CB(1)763(01))

4.The Chairman informed that all members of the Provisional Legislative Council, in particular members of the Environmental Affairs Panel, had been invited to discuss the subject which would be considered by the Public Works Subcommittee at its meeting on 17 February 1998.

5.The Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (PAS/PEL) briefly explained the Administration's plan to develop the site made available upon relocation of the Kai Tak Airport together with the reclaimed areas in Kowloon Bay. He stated that since the Government's committed housing development programme required the first target population intake at the existing airport site in early 2003, there was a need to clean up the site to provide a hazard-free environment for housing construction to start on site by the end of 1999.

6.The Project Manager/Kowloon, Territory Development Department supplemented that decontamination was necessary to clear the site from ground contamination resulted from historic leaks of aviation fuels and other sources. The contaminants identified included toxic and inflammable substances such as petroleum, benzene, methane etc. These substances, if exposed, would be hazardous to health and safety. The proposed works would cover -

  1. ground decontamination of the north apron area;

  2. demolition of existing buildings including services and facilities in the north apron area; and

  3. breaking up existing apron pavement and formation of the north apron area.

7.In response to members, the Chief Engineer/Studies, Territory Development Department (CE/TDD) indicated that decontamination and site preparation would take place in the north apron area. Current investigations had shown no sign of contamination in the south apron area. Breaking up of the apron pavement in the south apron area would be done at a later stage. He envisaged no difficulties in carrying out these works after those had been completed in the north apron area. While the south apron area would also be developed, the details of the overall development proposal would only be available by February 1998 upon completion of the South East Kowloon Development Feasibility Study.

8.Members were concerned about the possibility of ground contamination at the new airport. They noted the comments of Mr HO Sai-chu, being a board member of the Airport Authority, that the Chek Lap Kok Airport was better equipped than the Kai Tak Airport which was built in the 1950s. Nevertheless, the Administration was requested to provide the Panel with an information paper on the measures to be taken to avoid such a problem. Admin

(Post-meeting note - The required information was provided by the Administration and circulated to members under PLC Paper No. CB(1)863)

9.As to the method of decontamination, CE/TDD assured members that the process would be conducted in an environmentally acceptable manner. To this end, the Administration had employed consultants including expert advice from the United States. There were also cases of similar ground contamination in the United States and the problem faced by Hong Kong was not serious by comparison. Volatile pollutants would be extracted by blowing air through a system of pipes and burnt, whereas less volatile pollutants would be treated by enhanced bacterial action to remove their toxicity.

V.Flood prevention and control

(PLC Paper No. CB(1)763(02))

10.The Assistant Director of Drainage Services/Operation and Maintenance (AD/DS) briefly explained the Administration's three-tier plan comprising of long term structural measures, short term improvement and management measures and planning and legislative measures to resolve the flooding problem as detailed in the paper. He highlighted that the Administration would commission a consultancy to carry out the design of Stage III works of Shenzhen River Regulation Project. The commissioning of the Yuen Long Main Drainage Channel and the lower reaches of Kam Tin Main Drainage Channel would be advanced from the end of 1998 to June 1998. The Administration was considering the feasibility of constructing a drainage tunnelling system for North Hong Kong Island which would cost about $1 billion.

11.On a member's concern about the water discharge from Shenzhen Reservoir on 15 January 1998, AD/DS informed that the rate of water discharge was only 30 cubic metres per second and such a small scale would not have any serious impact on the drainage system in the Northern New Territories. AD/DS acknowledged the need for prior notification in advance of any water discharge so that nearby residents could be better prepared and protected against any flooding problems that might occur. He stated that an agreement had been reached with the Shenzhen authorities for notification to be given at least two hours in advance of any discharge, except in emergency situations.

12.As regards the interfacing drainage problems associated with the construction of major infrastructural projects, AD/DS affirmed that drainage impact assessments were conducted prior to the commencement of major projects. These studies would assess the drainage needs for the project during construction and upon completion.

13.A member enquired about the channel of compensation for loss of properties caused by flooding as a result of construction works. AD/DS advised that normally flooding should not be caused by the works if they were carried out in accordance with the recommendations of drainage impact studies. However, should negligence be found on the part of the contractors which resulted in flooding, the affected residents could claim damages from these contractors through the government department concerned.

14.Members stressed the need for stringent control over construction site activities to avoid blockage of drains by construction wastes. AD/DS concurred that this had been a major problem the solution to which required the cooperation of the construction industry. The Administration was considering the feasibility of taking enforcement action under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance against contractors for causing drain blockage and water pollution as a result of dumping of construction wastes. Meanwhile, efforts were stepped up to clear road gullies and catchpits with the assistance of the Urban Services Department and Regional Services Department.

15.On the measures to alleviate flooding in the New Territories, AD/DS explained that the Administration had implemented long term structural measures including river training projects which would provide comprehensive channel systems, and village flood protection schemes for low lying flood prone villages. Earth bunds were constructed around villages to prevent flood overflowing the river banks, while rainfall runoff within the earth bunds was directed to flood storage ponds and subsequently pumped into the drainage channels. Although the main river channels were built to cater for rainstorms of return period of 50 years, the river embankments were designed to withstand rainstorms of return period of 200 years. AD/DS added that most of the local drainage improvement works in the New Territories were carried out under the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy programme. To expedite project delivery, the Administration would implement some projects under a design and construction consultancy commencing early 1998.

16.A member noted with concern that the drainage system in West Kowloon would only be upgraded to cater for rainstorms of return period of 50 years by 2007. He was of the view that the drainage system should be improved to cater for rainstorms of return period of 200 years, given the Elnino effect of weather conditions. In response, AD/DS explained that new main drainage systems were built to withstand rainstorms of return period of 200 years but it would not be practicable nor cost-effective to upgrade existing drainage systems to such an extent in old districts such as West Kowloon. He added that Stage I works of the West Kowloon Stormwater Drainage Improvement Project would be carried out concurrently with the West Kowloon sewerage improvement works to minimize road openings and disturbance to the public. With the completion of Stages I and II of the project in 2004, the stormwater drains in the area would be able to cater for rainstorms of return period of 20 years. The system would be further upgraded under Stage III for completion by 2007 when drainage systems would then be able to carry storms of return period of 50 years.

17.Responding to a member's concern about the flooding blackspots at Mongkok and Shamshuipo, AD/DS said that urgent remedial measures including desilting of main drains in the areas were underway and would be completed before the coming rainy season. A long-term solution to the problem was to increase the drainage capacity under the West Kowloon Stormwater Drainage Improvement Project. As regards a member's suggestion of installing a tunnelling system to solve the drainage problem, AD/DS explained that such a system would be effective for the Hong Kong Island but might not be as effective or feasible for West Kowloon because of different topography.

18.There being no other business, the meeting closed at 12:45 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
23 February 1998