Hong Kong MTR

Government told to devise new plan to protect ancient relics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 3:19am

Officials were told yesterday to come up with alternative proposals to protect relics uncovered near an under-construction railway station after a plan put forward by the MTR Corporation failed to convince antiquities advisers.

The rail operator proposed installing sheet piling near the relics - some dating to the 960-1279AD Song era - to protect them from vibration from the site of the To Kwa Wan Station on the Sha Tin-Central link.

Construction manager Peter Ip Ho-ching told the Antiquities Advisory Board that this was the only way to avoid delaying the project for years. Sheet piling is made up of interlocking panels of steel driven into the ground.

Board chairman Andrew Lam Siu-lo said that while members recognised the urgency in finding a solution "we are not 100 per cent comfortable with what is being proposed".

He asked the Development Bureau to examine whether there were better options. Deputy Secretary for Development Albert Lam Kai-chung said the bureau would discuss it with the Transport and Housing Bureau.

This came after a three-hour meeting at which board members heard a presentation of the MTR's proposal for a wall of sheet piles to be installed 1.8 metres from one side of an ancient square stone well on the site, reducing vibration and shielding the relics. At present, the relics are covered with canvas.

But members expressed concern that the sheet piling would be too close to the well.

Board member Professor Ho Puay-peng, an architecture academic at the Chinese University, suggested that a launching shaft included in the project be moved 23 metres east so that works would be farther from the well.

But Ip said: "We can really not find a proposal better than this."

Pressed further on whether it was feasible to install the sheet piling at a different location, he said this would delay the works for years.