LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1688/95-96
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/PLW/1
LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works
Minutes of Meeting
held on Wednesday, 24 April 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Members Absent :
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Public Officers Attending :
- Item IV
- Mr Stanley WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Acting)
- Mr V H Bradley
- Assistant Director/Operations & Maintenance
Drainage Services Department
- Mr Raymond T K CHEUNG
- Chief Engineer/Land Drainage
Drainage Services Department
- Item V
- Mr Trevor Keen
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Lands)
- Mr Herbert LEUNG
- Government Land Agent (Estate Management)
Attendance by Invitation :
- Item III
- The Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects
- Mr Patrick H T LAU
- Mr Herman Lindeyer
- Item V
- The Joint Committee of Squatter Farmers of Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, and Shatin on Crops Compensation
- Ms LAU Wai-fung
- Representative, Tsuen Wan
- Ms CHAN Lai-cheung
- Representative, Shatin
- Mr WONG Fuk-wing
- Representative, Kwai Chung
Staff in Attendance :
Mrs Mary TANG, SAS(1)2
Ms Connie SZETO, SAS(1)5
(LegCo Paper Nos. PL1010/95-96, CB(1)1157 and 1244/95-96)
The minutes of the joint meeting with the Environmental Affairs Panel on 8 February 1996, the Panels special meeting on 9 February 1996 and the joint meeting with the Housing Panel on 13 February 1996 were confirmed.
2. Members went through the List of outstanding issues and agreed to discuss the following items at the Panels next regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 21 May 1996 :-
- Provision of noise mitigation measures in the design of public roads;
- Land use upon relocation of Kai Tak Airport;
- Report on demolition of Fortuna Hotel; and
- Sale and purchase of properties in the New Territories.
3. On item 2(a), members agreed to invite members of the Environmental Affairs Panel and of the Transport Panel to the discussion.
(Appendix II to LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1250/95-96; an information paper was tabled by the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects at the meeting)
4. The Chairman advised members that the purpose was to give the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects the status of an incorporated body and to prepare the way for a Landscape Architects Registration Bill which would provide for the registration of landscape architects and the disciplinary control over the professional activities of registered landscape architects, similar to the respective registration ordinances now in place for architects, surveyors, planners and engineers. Members expressed support for the Bill.
5. Responding to a members enquiry on the status of the post-graduate degree on Landscape Architecture conferred by the University of Hong Kong, Mr Patrick LAU advised that the programme was the first of its kind provided locally since 1994. The Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects had recently been successful in assisting the University to obtain formal validation of the course from the British Landscape Institute which was the professional body recognized by the Hong Kong Government for the purpose of civil service appointment.
6. Another member expressed concern about the possibility that the construction costs for property would be increased as a result of the lengthy time taken by the Government to vet landscape proposals submitted by developers. This might have the adverse effects of pushing up property prices. The Chairman shared the view and said that there might be unnecessary delay in submission and/or approval of landscape proposal as no deadline was specified under the current system. Members agreed that the issue be included in the Panels outstanding list for further discussion at future meetings.
(Appendix III to LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1250/95-96)
7. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr V H Bradley briefed members on the up-dated situation of the Administrations three-point plan to tackle the flooding problem in the territory and advised that various flood control projects were progressing well and the Administration would continue with its efforts and endeavour to complete the programme on schedule.
8. Members enquired about the criteria used by the Administration in determining the priority in implementing various flood control projects and whether, in deciding on the schedule of the programme, future infrastructural developments were taken into account.
9. In response, Mr Bradley and Mr Raymond CHEUNG made the following points :
- The schedule of flood control projects was drawn up with reference to the results of flood control strategy studies which inter alia provided a comprehensive plan for improving the river drainage system in the New Territories. Sensitivity tests had been conducted on the plan to make sure that the recommended improvement measures could meet the needs arising from future development scenarios. Implementation of the projects would also tie in with the planned local developments. For instance, the construction of the Yuen Long Bypass Floodway (Project 70CD/B) would commence by March 2000 to tie in with the planned development of southern Yuen Long.
- In scheduling the implementation of the various river training projects and flood protection schemes, improvement works were done in a sequential manner in such a way that the lower reaches of rivers were trained before the upstream sections in order to avoid transferring the flooding problem from the upper portion to the lower portion of the Yuen Long Floodplain. Hence, Project 60CD/A which dealt with the downstream sections of the floodplain was started much earlier than the works further upstream.
10. On river training projects, a member enquired about the details of Shenzhen River Regulation Project and urged for its early completion. In reply, Mr Raymond CHEUNG briefly explained the details of the project which upon completion would increase the capacity of the river by four times, hence greatly reducing the risks of flooding in northern New Territories. He added that Stage I works progressed satisfactorily and were expected to be completed by mid-1997, six months ahead of the original estimated completion date. The construction of Stage II works which would be implemented in two phases would start in late 1996. Preparatory works including commissioning a consultancy to undertake detailed design for the project had already commenced. The Administration would endeavour to complete the project on schedule and expedite progress wherever possible.
11. Referring to para.18 of the paper which stated that the Administration had been successful in removing 16 out of a total of 90 identified flooding blackspots, a member enquired about the improvement measures and any specific timetable for tackling the remaining blackspots. In response, Mr Bradley advised that an action plan had been drawn up for this purpose and the details of which would be provided to members. Upon a members request, the Administration would also provide information on flood improvement works for Hung Shui Kiu area which was an essential part of the North West New Territories flood control scheme.
12. A member opined that consideration should be given to the improvement of facilities in the rural areas, for example, widening village roads, in the course of implementing flood control projects for the convenience of local residents. This might help to resolve problems arising from resumption of private land for the projects, thus speeding up the progress of works. In reply, Mr Stanley WONG said that while beneficial spill-over improvements works could be carried out as part of the main project, the cost implications had to be carefully assessed. He assured members that close liaison was maintained with the departments concerned to ensure that worthy improvement works could be undertaken wherever possible. Mr Bradley supplemented that the Drainage Services Department (DSD) had included in some project designs the construction of maintenance roads for drainage facilities, which would also serve as access roads for the local community.
13. Regarding legislative and institutional measures in tackling the flooding problem, a member considered that legislative control should be imposed to deter private developers from carrying out projects which might have adverse drainage impacts. Mr Raymond CHEUNG responded that there was an existing control mechanism requiring developers to carry out drainage impact assessment, in cases where there were potential adverse drainage impacts, during the process of obtaining planning permission for their developments from the Town Planning Board. Under the current system, any proposed land use development within a floodplain was assessed with full consideration of its effects on land drainage and relevant departments including the DSD, Planning Department, Lands Department and Buildings Department were involved in the process. The Chairman pointed out that Government had effective control over non-compliance by developers by withholding the issue of Certificates of Compliance for the development unless it was satisfied that the necessary mitigation measures had been carried out.
(Appendix IV to LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1250/95-96; LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1290/95-96)
14. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr Trevor Keen briefed members on the latest development regarding the captioned issue following the discussion at the Panels meeting on 19 December 1995. He made the following points :
- Under the current policy, in the case of development clearance, ex gratia allowances for loss of crops were determined by the land requirement of the clearance project. As for non-development clearance, allowances were payable for ten metres from each side of an affected structure, i.e. the ten-metre-rule. This was a long established policy with the purpose of confining public expenditure to the absolutely necessary amounts.
- Should the current policy be amended to cover all the crops grown by the displaced farmers, regardless of whether they fell within the clearance boundary, the amounts of ex gratia allowances would be greatly increased.
- The Administration noted that the concerned farmers were not illegal squatters and that their status was recognized by the issue of Crown Land Licences (CLLs). The Administration also appreciated that it might not be practicable for displaced farmers who were relocated far away to continue with their farming activities on the remaining farm land.
- Based on the above considerations, the Administration was actively reviewing the financial and policy implications of a change to the policy in respect of development and non-development clearances whereby ex gratia allowances would be payable to genuine farmers who were holders of valid CLLs in respect of cultivated areas within the clearance boundary and in respect of cultivated areas falling within the CLL boundary but outside the clearance boundary, on condition that the CLLs would be cancelled.
- It was expected that a decision on the revised policy would be made very soon and hopefully, the Panel would be informed of the result at its next regular meeting.
15. Addressing a members enquiry, Mr Keen explained that non-development clearance was mostly confined to domestic squatter structures built at the hillside and identified as being at risk due to potential slope failure. Farming at the hillside should not constitute any risk to human lives. The ten-metre-rule was set for non-development clearance because it was normally the area required for facilitating the demolition of the structure and any subsequent slope remedial works.
16. Members welcomed the Administrations initiative and considered it a step forward in the right direction. They expressed the following views on the proposed revised policy :
- It was the obligation of the Government to compensate affected farmers. For those farmers with CLLs, compensation should be extended to the entire area covered by the licence. For those genuine farmers who had long been farming on Crown Land without licence, consideration should be given to the provision of suitable compensation, taking into account their past farming history.
- As some CLLs did not contain any information on farming activities on the land, compensation should be based on the current farming activities undertaken by the farmers rather than on the specifications in the CLL.
- The revised policy should be applicable to farmers who were in the process of negotiating with the Administration on compensation and rehousing arrangements.
17. At the Chairmans invitation, representatives of the Joint Committee of Squatter Farmers presented their views as follows :
- The squatter farmers were not illegal occupants of the land. Majority of them had been in the occupation for decades. They were encouraged by the Government in the 1950s to engage in farming in the New Territories. Although some of them did not have valid CLLs, they were genuine farmers and had been receiving assistance from the Government in carrying out farming activities.
- As the farmers had contributed to the community in the past, it would be unfair if they were not duly compensated for their losses. Their livelihood would be greatly affected as they would have difficulty in finding alternative employment at their old age.
- The Government should abolish the ten-metre-rule and provide compensation in respect of all cultivated areas covered by genuine farmers irrespective of whether or not they had CLLs.
18. Mr Keen noted the above views and made the following points :
- The Administration would endeavour to work out a practical definition of genuine farmer in processing ex gratia allowance cases.
- As regards ex gratia allowance for farmers with CLLs, the ten-metre-rule would continue to apply if the farmer chose to continue farming after clearance and the area was covered by the CLL. Under such circumstances, the farmers would be re-issued with new CLLs covering the remaining land. Should the clearance area be so large as to render the remaining farm land unviable or should the farmers new accommodation be so far away as to make it impracticable to continue farming in the area, the proposed revision of the policy would provide for ex gratia allowance to be payable in respect of all cultivated areas covered by the existing CLL on condition that the CLL would be cancelled. The Administration would work out the detailed arrangements and would take into account members view that the affected farmers should be given an option.
- While the Administration might consider accepting other forms of recognized and documented land holding licences such as CLLs, it would be against Government policy to provide ex gratia allowance in respect of crops falling outside the clearance boundary to squatter farmers who did not have any valid proof and had illegally occupied Government land. This would set a dangerous precedent and would have the adverse effects of encouraging illegal land occupation.
- In line with the existing practice, the revised policy would not have retrospective effect. However, the Administration would look into the matter and make suitable transitional arrangements as far as possible.
19. Members reiterated that special consideration should be given to the past farming history of genuine farmers who had long been farming on Crown Land without any licence. In response, Mr Keen pointed out that since the Government only stopped issuing CLLs in the mid 1970s, farmers who had been in the occupation for decades should have been issued with CLLs. Nevertheless, the Administration would examine the issue further.
20. The meeting ended at 12:45 p.m.
24 June 1996
Last Updated on 21 Aug, 1998