Rise in fines for illegal storage planned
FINES for the unauthorised development of open storage sites in the New Territories may be increased to more than $500,000, under a proposal being considered by the Planning Department.
Existing fines of around $100,000 are proving insufficient in deterring the spread of illegal sites, said the chief town planner of the department's Central Enforcement and Prosecution Section, Lee Tak-keung.
'Basically the people who are engaged in unauthorised development are making some money,' Mr Lee said.
The move is part of a government effort to try to clean up the environmental blackspots caused by uncontrolled conversion of agricultural land to industrial use for open storage and other port back-up facilities.
Pollution and flooding have resulted from the construction of the sites without proper drainage and waste disposal.
Unauthorised sites are those which have appeared since the new Town Planning Ordinance was enacted in 1991, requiring all proposed sites to obtain the approval of a town planning office.
An enforcement and prosecution team was established at the same time to monitor the sites. In the past two years they have stepped up their action against unauthorised developments by taking court action rather than issuing warnings.
'People weren't taking it seriously,' Mr Lee said. 'There is still unauthorised development going on all over the New Territories.' The department's Chief Town Planner (Port and Airport Strategy), Larry Parker, said 189 summonses had been issued with 67 going through the court system.
Of those in the system, 52 had been dealt with and all were convicted of offences under the Town Planning Ordinance - giving the enforcement team a 100 per cent conviction rate.
Mr Lee said the fines imposed ranged from $5,000 to a maximum of $199,000.
The Blackspots Taskforce was set up to clean up the authorised sites - those built between 1983 and 1991, which were not subject to town planning approval.