SLOPES COULD POSE RISK WITHOUT UPGRADE WORK
I refer to the letter by Peter Tanner headlined 'Top official must stop tree-felling folly' (South China Morning Post, December 22), about slope upgrading works near Lung Yan Road, Beacon Hill.
The upgrading works are required for safety reasons. The five slopes in question (under the current works contract which began last July) are located on the downslope side of Lung Yan Road, overlooking a residential development. We have carried out detailed ground investigations and found that the slopes comprise loose fill, which, in its existing condition, has a high risk of failure.
Therefore, it was decided the slopes should be stabilised, as their failure would affect the nearby development as well as Lung Yan Road, which is the only access road to Beacon Hill Radar Station which serves Hong Kong International Airport. Apart from public safety considerations, landslips occurring along the access road may indirectly disrupt the functioning of the airport.
The slopes are located within Lion Rock Country Park.
Given the visual sensitivity of this area, we have placed special emphasis on the aesthetic aspects of the works in order to minimise their visual impact. We have considered a number of options for stabilisation of the slopes, with a view to avoid the felling of trees.
Unfortunately, the engineering solutions available for upgrading of loose fill slopes are rather limited and mostly require the removal of the loose fill, which in this case meant the felling of some 213 trees.
However, all of the trees affected are commonly found in Hong Kong and none are rare species.
In order to mitigate the visual impact of the works, we have adopted a comprehensive replanting programme, involving planting of some 1,859 trees and 312 shrubs, combined with hydroseeding. The measures will not only compensate for the lost trees, but will also further enhance the aesthetic environment in the area. The compensatory landscaping proposals were approved by the Marine and Country Parks Authority, through the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, following an exhaustive consultation period with relevant departments.
Regarding Mr Tanner's queries about our response to his two letters published, through these columns, on the subject of slope signposts, the Post published two letters on this subject on January 17 and April 10, 2000. The then Works Bureau responded to both of them, on June 4. It pointed out slope signs were erected to help members of the public identify a particular slope when relaying their concerns to the relevant government department.
The sign also helped the department pinpoint the exact location of a slope for prompt follow-up actions, especially when there was an emergency such as a landslide.
We are mindful of the need to improve the appearance of some existing slope signs so they blend in with their surroundings and minimise the visual impact. In this regard, we have introduced measures to progressively removed or replace some existing slope signs, especially those erected at visually sensitive locations.
N. F. CHAN
Chief Geotechnical Engineer, Works
Geotechnical Engineering Office
Civil Engineering Department