Court fines firm for illegally occupying land on four-storey-high ‘waste hill’

Consultancy to pay HK$80,000 after it ignored Department’s demands to vacate the land, which recently attracted community outrage for being an unofficial dump near Kingswood Villas housing estate

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 10:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 10:36pm

A consultancy was fined HK$80,000 on Friday for occupying and removing earth on unleased government land that was part of a huge waste hill in Tin Shui Wai.

Tuen Mun Court heard the four lots covering 375 square metres were investigated by Lands Department officials following a complaint filed in March.

Subsequent studies by surveyors found the height of the hill had risen from 10.8 metres in March to 13.1 metres on April 26, suggesting that it was occupied.

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A notice was then served on May 4, demanding the company cease its occupation. But it did not comply by May 20.

A company representative of Li’s Development and Consultant (Hong Kong) pleaded guilty on Friday to two summonses issued last month by the Lands Department.

Acting Principal Magistrate Marinda Chow Yin-chu noted that the work was linked to commercial activities. But she also considered that the defendant was a first-time offender as she handed down the HK$80,000 fine, which must be paid in two weeks.

She was told the company occupied the land from May 11 to 20 without a licence, deed or memorandum of appropriation and did not halt its occupation as required by a notice on May 4.

The company also admitted that it removed earth, turf or stone from the lots in February without a removal permit as required under the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance.

The case followed public outcry over a four-storey waste hill covering the size of two soccer pitches on a site zoned as green belt and recreational use near the Kingswood Villas private housing estate.

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Prosecutors said the company is still occupying the land, but they limited their prosecution to ten days following the advice from Department of Justice.

Given the extent of occupation and the community concern that it had caused, they demanded a deterrent sentence.

The defence argued that the company’s actions did not affect residents or cause pollution, and said the situation on the land had improved, with the grounds lowering by one to two metres.

An offence of ten days was much less serious than past examples of 30 to 200 days of occupation, the defence added.