LC Paper No. PWSC26/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council

Minutes of the fourth meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 23 September 1998, at 10:45 am

Members present :

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Margaret NG
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Christine LOH
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :
Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Secretary for Works Ag.

Director of Environmental Protection Ag.

Mr James HERD
Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works)

Mr LO Yiu Ching, JP
Director of Territory Development Ag.

Mr LAU Sing District
Planning Officer/Kowloon, Planning Department

Director of Water Supplies

Director of Drainage Services Ag.

Mr Parrish NG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs (4)

Assistant Director (2), Home Affairs Department
Clerk in attendance:
Miss Polly YEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3
Staff in attendance:
Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8
Upgrading of projects to Category A

PWSC(98-99)18469CLSouth East Kowloon development at Kai Tak Airport - early development package

Members noted that the present proposal sought funds for site investigation works and detailed design of infrastructure for housing development in the north apron area of Kai Tak Airport (NAKTA). Mr Edward HO informed members that the Planning, Lands and Works (PLW) Panel had discussed this funding proposal on 10 September 1998, followed by a special meeting on 17 September 1998 to deliberate on the South East Kowloon Development (SEKD), of which the NAKTA was the first of four development packages proposed for implementation. The main concerns of Panel members on the present funding proposal and the Administration response had been summarized in the information note PWSCI(98-99)11 prepared by the Administration and tabled at the meeting.

2. Members enquired about the basis on which the infrastructure items for NAKTA as set out in paragraph 4 of the discussion paper were drawn up, and questioned whether changes to the scale of reclamation and land use in the overall SEKD would impact on these infrastructure items. The Director of Territory Development (DTD) advised that the NAKTA development package was mainly to provide 48 000 housing units. to cater for a target population of 130 000. The infrastructure items under this proposal, including roads, sewage treatment facilities, drainage, sewerage, and watermains, were based on the planned housing development and the need to provide appropriate interface arrangements with the existing infrastructure on the NAKTA hinterland. He added that the proposed site investigation works would be necessary as long as the future development plans for the North Apron remained unchanged. On the other hand, changes, if any, to the land use proposals in the greater SEKD area which might impact on NAKTA could be accommodated in the detailed design of the infrastructure for NAKTA. Given the time-frame of the proposed consultancy, DTD assured members that such changes could be easily assimilated into the detailed design process.

3. Referring to members' strong reservations on the proposed 0.8-kilometre open channel to replace the existing Kai Tak Nullah, DTD advised that under the overall SEKD, the existing Kai Tak Nullah would be replaced by a box culvert in the area occupied by the housing developments and an open channel in the area designated as the proposed metropolitan park. The proposed open channel would carry only stormwater and treated effluent to the shoreline. He confirmed that the alternative of providing a box culvert for the whole nullah would entail complicated design work, unnecessarily high cost and would generate maintenance problems. He assured members that with the full implementation of the sewage treatment plans for South East Kowloon and East Kowloon in mid-1999, any discharges carried by the open channel would be odourless and clean enough for water recreational activities.

4. Members queried the impact on the present funding proposal if the open channel design was subsequently discarded. DTD advised that the approval of the NAKTA funding proposal would not bind members to any decision on the open-channel design as the consultancy under discussion was confined to the detailed design of the infrastructure for NAKTA only. He confirmed that the adoption or otherwise of the open-channel design would not affect the site investigation works for the north apron area. Although the design of the associated drainage and sewerage systems and the landscaping works in NAKTA would probably be affected by changes in the open channel design, there should be no difficulty in accommodating the necessary changes in the detailed design work for NAKTA.

5. Commenting on the pollution problem at the existing Kai Tak Nullah in relation to the present proposal, DTD advised that a separate funding proposal would be submitted early next year for the elimination of the odour generated by the existing nullah. This would be achieved by using biochemical methods. Referring to the layout plan attached to the discussion paper, he advised members that there would be a small intersection between the existing Kai Tak Nullah and the future open channel in NAKTA. To ensure that the latter would not be subject to pollution, any contaminants found at the bottom of this intersection area would be removed and replaced with clean sand. He also clarified that the provision of the environmental protection measures referred to in paragraph 4(f) was not targeted at removing ground contamination at NAKTA as funds had already been approved for this purpose in February 1998. The decontamination works were scheduled to commence in September 1998.

6. Referring to the housing development programme in NAKTA which accounted for the urgency of the present funding proposal, a member queried if the programme had been duly reviewed by the relevant authority in the light of the current property market conditions. In reply, DTD confirmed that the programme was based on the latest housing production schedule of the Housing Bureau. The member requested the Administration to provide information on the latest review of the urgency and need for the housing programme in NAKTA, and to confirm whether changes would need to be made to the programme in question as a result of the review.

7. Responding to a member about the railway development plan in SEKD and how this would be taken into account in the design of the infrastructure for NAKTA, DTD advised that the present SEKD project included two preliminary alignments of the future railway network and that the relevant Government departments were liaising with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation in the context of the Second Railway Development Study. The results of the study would be known by mid-1999. The consultancy under the present proposal would be able to tie in with this railway development planning process, and incorporate the necessary interface issues in the detailed design of the infrastructure for NAKTA. He added that the existing transport infrastructure would be able to meet the traffic demand generated by the NAKTA housing development..

8. Mr Edward HO concurred that the proposed site investigation works would be necessary irrespective of the ultimate land uses in SEKD. He had strong reservations, however , on the proposal to carry out detailed design at this stage. He pointed out that subsequent changes to the scale of reclamation and land uses in SEKD would have implications on the planning and other design aspects for NAKTA, and would thus definitely affect the detailed design of the infrastructure for NAKTA. He also cast doubt on the Administration's view that these changes could be accommodated in the detailed design process for NAKTA, having regard to the fact that the relevant outline zoning plans had only been gazetted on 4 September 1998. Given the need for public consultation and the processing of objections, it might be more than one year before a final decision on the land uses in SEKD could be made. He was concerned that the expenses incurred in carrying out the detailed design work for the NAKTA infrastructure during that time might become abortive. He therefore suggested that the funding for the detailed design work should be taken out of the present proposal and should be submitted to this Subcommittee at a later date when there was greater certainty about the scale of reclamation, land uses and other development aspects of the SEKD.

9. In response, DTD reiterated that changes to the remainder of the SEKD project should not have much impact on NAKTA as the latter did not involve reclamation and the proposed land uses (mainly for housing) were not controversial. Besides, the proposed consultancy was scheduled to commence in early 1999 for completion in phases from August 2000 to June 2002. This would allow the consultant to take account of the views received during the consultation process and if necessary, to incorporate possible changes to the land uses of SEKD in the detailed design of the infrastructure for NAKTA. He said that splitting the proposed consultancy into two parts would be less cost-effective. Under the present proposal, however, the consultant could supervise the site investigation works and work on the detailed design concurrently to produce the best results.

10. After discussion, members did not subscribe to the Administration's view that the funding proposal should be approved at this stage. They considered that the infrastructure plans for NAKTA should be devised and deliberated in the context of the overall SEKD project. As public consultation on the SEKD had just commenced and a number of related issues might need to be deliberated by the relevant Panel(s), they suggested that the Administration withdraw the funding proposal.

11. In view of members' concerns and comments, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury said that the Administration would withdraw this item for further consideration. At the Chairman's request, the Administration would follow up members' concern on the housing construction programme in NAKTA and include information on its review in the future submission to the Subcommittee. Admin.

12. The Chairman further suggested that policy issues pertinent to the overall SEKD project should be taken up by the relevant Panel(s). Miss Christine LOH informed members that the PLW Panel and the Environmental Affairs Panel would hold a joint Panel meeting shortly to discuss the SEKD.XX

13. The item was withdrawn by the Administration.

PWSC(98-99)17332CLWest Kowloon Reclamation - main works (remainder)

14. Mr Edward HO informed members that this proposal had been discussed at the PLW Panel on 10 September 1998.

15. A member commented that the present transport infrastructure was insufficient to support intra-district traffic in West Kowloon and enquired if there were plans to improve the situation. DTD advised that the traffic movements within the West Kowloon region had undergone substantial changes following the commissioning of the West Harbour Crossing and the Airport Railway. He added that the Transport Department would commence a review on the traffic demand and transport infrastructure of West Kowloon and Island North districts in October 1998 for completion in 15 months.

16. In reply to a member, DTD confirmed that for the time being, there was no plan for further reclamation work in West Kowloon apart from the present project. The design of the road network in the proposed reclamation area was based on this assumption. He assured members that even if there was further reclamation for development, there should be no problem for the road network under discussion to interface with such development.

17. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)1358WCWater supply to West Kowloon reclamation - stage 2

18. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)1661CDExtension of the new drainage outfall from Canton Road

19. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)1164CDRural drainage rehabilitation scheme

20. Members queried the extent to which the proposed drainage rehabilitation works would alleviate the flooding problem in North-east New Territories. In response, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) advised that with the completion of the rehabilitation works at Ng Tung River (by November 2000) and Sheung Yue River (by April 2001 under the present proposal), together with the completion of the Shenzhen River Regulation Project (by 2004), it was expected that North-east New Territories would be able to sustain a one in 50-year rainstorm which had an intensity of about 130mm of rainfall per hour.

21. Addressing concerns about the environmental impact of the proposed works, in particular the amount of vegetation that would be removed, DDS advised that according to the Environmental Impact Assessment study for the project the works would not give rise to any significant long-term environmental impact. As for the works at the Sheung Yue River under the present proposal, he said that only Longan trees and grass were found on the river banks. A provision of $3.5 million had been included in this project for environmental mitigation works which would include the re-planting of trees and landscaping works along the river banks.

22. Noting that the necessary land acquisition and clearance for the proposed works would affect some 97 persons, members expressed concern about the resettlement arrangements for the affected persons. DDS assured members that the Drainage Services Department would work closely with the Housing Department in resolving any resettlement problems that might arise. At the Chairman's request, the Administration agreed to confirm the number of affected persons who were not eligible for public housing or temporary housing, and whether resettlement assistance would be offered to these persons. Admin.

23. Responding to a member's enquiry, DDS explained that the uncertainty about the quantity of earthworks involved was common in such works projects and would not cause significant difficulty in completing the works on schedule.

24. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)1455HHLocal public works in the rural New Territories

25. Noting that most of the local public works proposed were concerned with desilting or clearance of existing streams and watercourses, members queried whether these works were directly related to upgrading the living environment in the rural areas, which was the objective of the project in question. They were concerned that the provision of amenities and recreational facilities for the rural areas were not given due priority in the allocation of funds. Members also enquired if the desilting works were to be carried out on a regular basis, and whether term contractors would be engaged for these works.

26. In response, the Assistant Director of Home Affairs (AD of HA) advised that the scope of the project in question covered, inter alia, stream embankments and drainage systems, and the proposed desilting works were within the ambit of the project. He explained that the list of local public works under this project had been drawn up in consultation with the relevant Provisional District Boards (PDBs) on a case-by-case basis, and such works were not carried out at regular intervals. On this occasion, in view of the prevailing flooding problems in the New Territories in recent years, the PDBs, in particular Yuen Long and North PDBs, had urged the Administration to give priority to stream desilting and clearance works as an interim measure to alleviate the flooding hazard pending major works to improve the drainage systems. He nevertheless took note of members' concern that the provision of amenities and recreational facilities for the rural areas should not be overlooked. He also advised that due to the ad-hoc nature of the proposed local works, it was more cost-effective to engage contractors on a need basis than to engage term contractors for these works.

27. On the proposed provision of $12.3 million for 12 works items in Yuen Long versus a provision of $4.8 million for 70 items in North District which a member considered disproportionate, AD of HA clarified that the works items in Yuen Long were larger in scale than those in North District. He took note of the member's suggestion that an explanation of such apparent anomalies should be given in future submissions.

28. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)1518HHVillage improvement and development schemes in the New Territories

446THImprovement, reconstruction and extension of village access roads in the New Territories

29. A member referred to a letter (circulated to members vide LC Paper No. PWSC 16/98-99) from a resident of Mui Wo expressing concerns about the effectiveness and environmental impact of a proposed project - Improvement to embankment at Wang Tong River, Mui Wo" under the present proposal. He recalled that the former Legislative Council had handled a complaint case on this subject in 1996. In response, AD of HA informed members that the project had all along been strongly supported by the majority of residents in the area and only a small number of the residents objected to the project because of its scale and design. Stage 1 of the project began in 1996 and the present proposal covered stage 2, i.e. the remaining works of the project. The Administration had recently consulted the concerned residents, the majority of whom were in support of completing the project to solve the flooding problem.

30. On the allegation that flooding this year was worse than it had ever been, AD of HA said that the two recent episodes of flooding in the area were partly due to the fact that the project had not been completed. He believed that the flooding problem could be alleviated with the completion of the project. As regards the objecting residents' claim that up-stream problems were the main causes of flooding, AD of HA advised that the Administration had examined the up-stream situation and professional advice from engineers had confirmed that completion of the improvement works was the effective solution to the flooding problem. In this connection, the Chairman informed members that the residents objecting to the project had lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman.

31. Referring to the proposed works on village access roads, a member commented that the sharing of the same access roads by pedestrians and vehicles in many rural areas had posed safety problems. Besides, there were no clear signs to indicate whether these roads were for pedestrians' use only. In reply, AD of HA advised that the van tracks proposed under the present proposal were designed to provide access to both pedestrians and vehicles. He agreed to follow up the member's suggestion of erecting sign boards at village access roads to indicate that both vehicular traffic and pedestrians were allowed to use the tracks, in order to avoid confusion. The Administration would also consider the suggestion of providing speed bumps on the roads to prevent speeding of vehicles which might jeopardize pedestrians' safety.Admin.

32. The item was voted on and endorsed.

33. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:25 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
14 October 1998