Tighter planning rules 'not the answer'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am

The government has told legislators the Town Planning Ordinance is not the 'most appropriate tool' to control illegal dumping.

This was its response to suggestions raised by a Legislative Council subcommittee studying fly-tipping during six rounds of meetings with officials since March.

One option raised by the lawmakers was to extend town planning controls - such as a presumption against land-filling unless approval is granted - to areas not covered by development permission area plans.

These blueprints used by the Planning Department to enforce restrictions do not cover all areas.

But a report released by the subcommittee yesterday quoted the government as saying that the extension was not the 'most appropriate tool' because most land not covered by the plan was government-owned and already covered by other forms of land control.

The government also said such an extension would require enormous manpower for enforcement and might prolong the development process.

'To overhaul the planning regime to forestall a particular form of illegal or unauthorised activities would have far-reaching implications,' the government told the subcommittee.

Publication of the report comes little more than a month ahead of a deadline set by the Planning Department for land in Sheung Shui covered by illicitly dumped construction waste to be restored to its original condition.

Landowners at Ho Sheung Heung village have been given until the end of next month to clear the waste and grow grass on the land.

The gently worded 11-page report summarised the exchanges of views between the lawmakers and officials on possible options to strengthen regulations on deliberate environmental damage.

The report also said the Environmental Protection Department was considering the subcommittee's suggestion that written authorisation be required from landowners for dumping of construction waste on private land.

But the department did not give a timetable, saying time was needed to study the proposals and consult the Heung Yee Kuk, which represents the interests of indigenous New Territories residents, as well as district councils.

The government was also in talks with the Hong Kong Construction Association to introduce the trip-ticket system - used at government sites to ensure waste is unloaded only at authorised dumps - in private works projects. But the association said it only supported a voluntary scheme and was now drafting guidelines on that.