For discussion
on 21 April 1999


Subhead 001 Salaries
    Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the retention of the following supernumerary post in the Lands Department for a period of five years with effect from 10 June 1999 -

      1 Government Land Agent
      (D2) ($116,650 - $123,850)

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 1999. Director of Lands (D of L) needs continued directorate support to tackle the land use environmental problems in the NT.


2.We propose to retain the supernumerary GLA (D2) post for five years from 10 June 1999.


3. On 10 June 1994, Members approved the creation of one supernumerary post of GLA (D2) to head the Task Force (Black Spots) (TFB) in Lands Department (Lands D) [vide EC(94-95)14]. The supernumerary GLA post was approved initially for two years, and approval was subsequently given for its retention for a further three years from 10 June 1996 [vide EC(96-97)13]. The TFB, a multi-disciplinary team comprising professional and executive officers, was set up in 1994 to clean up environmental black spots in the rural areas (e.g. container depots, open storage of scrap metal or machinery) categorised as "existing uses" (EU) 1under the Town Planning Ordinance. Operating under the direction of the Special Committee on the Cleaning Up of Black Spots in the New Territories (the Special Committee)2 , the TFB formulated a 10-year rolling programme in 1996 to clean up these black spots (see Enclosure 1).Encl. 1

Progress of Work

4. During the past four and half years, the TFB has succeeded in persuading the land owners or operators of some 250 EU undertakings in the Pat Heung Pilot Action Area, Ha Tsuen Container Action Area, and North District (East) Action Area to carry out in-situ environmental improvement works on their sites at their own expense. In return for satisfactory completion of such improvement works, the TFB offered them short term waivers (STW) to regularise unauthorised structures built on private land and, if necessary, short term tenancies (STT) to regularise unauthorised occupation of adjoining Government land. As a result, more than 300 STWs and STTs have been issued. In addition, the TFB has cleared 558 black spots on Government land. To date, a total of about 109 hectares of private land and Government land have been improved through the efforts of the TFB. A summary of the annual progress of the work of the TFB is at Enclosure 2.Encl. 2

5.Since 1998, the TFB has taken up the additional task of coordinating departmental efforts to tackle and prevent illegal dumping throughout the territory. The GLA now chairs the Inter-departmental Working Group on Flytipping

Control, an inter-departmental working group with representatives from various departments, including the Environmental Protection Department, the Planning Department (Plan D), the Urban Services Department and the Regional Services Department, to take forward this initiative.

Future Work

6.Over the next five years, the TFB will continue to work on the 11 open storage areas and seven container action areas included in the 10-year rolling programme at Enclosure 1. This work will proceed in accordance with the programme to ensure that environmental improvements are achieved in all of the 18 identified action areas. This will involve undertaking the clearance of some 950 black spots covering about 100 hectares of private land in the NT, as well as the creation of a further 750 STWs and STTs.

7.According to the 10-year rolling programme drawn up in 1996, the TFB's task of cleaning up the black spots along main roads (where most of them are located) in the rural areas is scheduled to be completed in 2006. However, it is estimated that another three years will be required to clean up the remaining black spots covering an area of about 60 hectares in the hinterland beyond the main roads.

8.In parallel, the TFB will process the documentation and collect the rents/fees for the STTs/STWs created and continue to work closely with the Plan D in identifying and tendering suitable new sites for port back-up and container-related uses, as well as co-ordinating departmental efforts to control illegal dumping.

9.D of L has reviewed the progress of work of the TFB and its future commitments. Given that the TFB is just mid-way through the 10-year rolling programme, he has concluded that he needs the continued input of a dedicated senior professional at GLA level to formulate policies and strategies to reduce the land use environmental problems in the NT, steer the long term cleaning up programme, prevent recurrence of black spots and coordinate efforts of various Government departments in tackling illegal dumping. As the existing GLA post is due to lapse on 10 June 1999, we propose its retention for five years. We will review the need for the post in early 2004, having regard to the progress of the 10-year programme.

10.The GLA will continue to maintain close contacts with the Provisional District Boards, and the Rural Committees of the major action areas in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and North Districts with a view to soliciting their support towards the cleaning up exercises. He will formulate the publicity strategy related to the cleaning up of black spots and oversee its implementation. The GLA will also maintain close liaison with the conservation organizations, and the trade associations of container and open storage industries to promote environmental improvement concepts and help the industries concerned implement environmental improvement works. In addition, he will coordinate efforts to keep the improved black spot sites in good condition through continuous monitoring and maintenance.

11.To provide professional and secretarial support to the TFB, we will retain the existing 157 non-directorate posts. The job descriptions of the GLA, departmentally known as Assistant Director/Task Force (Black Spots) (the AD/TFB), and the organisation chart of the TFB are at Enclosures 3 and 4 respectively.Encls. 3&4

12.We have fully considered other possible means of providing a Head for the TFB, including redeployment, and have concluded that there is no possibility of redeploying another D2 officer to deal with the work. The work of the Task Force has been building up momentum, and needs to be sustained. The work of AD/TFB involves heavy responsibilities and the dedicated professional input and supervision of a D2 officer to ensure the effect of the Task Force is maximized. All other ADs in Lands D are fully occupied with their existing duties which cover subjects which are by nature very distinct from those of AD/TFB. In addition the Task Force is a geographically separate unit (housed in Sheung Shui).


13.The notional annual salary cost of the proposal at mid-point is $1,443,000. The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, is $2,639,712.

14.We have included sufficient provision in the 1999-2000 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.


15.On 29 April 1994, Finance Committee approved the setting up of a multi-disciplinary TFB, initially for five years, in the Lands D and Plan D, and the creation of a capital account block vote in the Lands D for cleaning up black spots in the NT.

16.The overall planning, functions and progress of work of the TFB are monitored by the Special Committee on the Cleaning Up of Black Spots in the New Territories (the Special Committee). In 1996, the Special Committee endorsed a 10-year rolling programme of work primarily aimed at black spots located along main roads in the North and Northwest NT. The Special Committee has recognised the mid-term achievement of the TFB and has recommended the TFB to continue to function after 31 March 1999 so that it may complete its work programme in cleaning up black spots, in coordinating Government efforts to tackle illegal waste dumping and in preventing recurrence of black spots. In view of the need to continue cleaning up environmental black spots, the Government has decided to extend the service of the TFB for five years up to 31 March 2004.

17.We reported the progress of the cleaning up exercise to the Panel on Planning, Lands and Works of the Legislative Council on 24 October 1997 and 10 December 1998 respectively. Members were satisfied with the progress of the work though they have raised concern on the number of properly planned sites available for container related industry and open storage undertakings in the NT. We also issued an information note on the current proposal to the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works on 23 March 1999.


18.The Civil Service Bureau supports the retention of the post for a period of five years from 10 June 1999. The Administration will review in 2004 the need for the post having regard to the progress of the 10-year rolling programme.


19.As we propose to retain the post of the 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 Bureau
April 1999

Enclosure 3 to EC(1999-2000)5

Job Description
Assistant Director/Task Force (Black Spots)
Lands Department

Rank : Government Land Agent (D2)

Overall Role and Objective -

As head of the Task Force (Black Spots), the Assistant Director/ Task Force (Black spots) is responsible to the Deputy Director (Specialist) for formulating and implementing plans, and coordinating activities of the Task Force with departments concerned in tackling the land use environmental problems in the rural New Territories.

Major Responsibilities -

(1) To identify areas with the land use environmental problem, to establish the extent of the problem and to prioritize action areas in consultation with other offices in Lands Department and other government departments.

(2) 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.

(3) 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.

(4) To liaise with the Special Committee on the Cleaning up of Black Spots in the New Territories, district organizations, consultative committees, trade associations 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.

(5) To monitor and review, in liaison with other government departments, the strength and composition of the multi-disciplinary Task Force to maximize its capacity to tackle the problem in an effective and efficient manner to meet the changing operational needs.

(6) To chair the "Inter-departmental Working Group on Flytipping Control" with the aim of coordinating various government efforts to tackle the illegal dumping issue throughout the territory in a more organized and efficient approach.

1EU means the use of a building or land that was in existence immediately before the publication in the Gazette of notice of the draft Development Permission Area Plan under the Town Planning Ordinance. In 1993, we estimated that about 400 hectares of land were recognised as EU. Recent estimates indicate that the area of EU land is about 245 hectares.

2The Special Committee is chaired by a non-official with ten non-official members and six official members representing the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau and relevant departments.