26. To have a better understanding of the work and the progress of the Guangdong authority in combating air pollution, the Chairman suggested that a visit to the Guangdong side should be arranged in due course. In response, SEF said that the Administration had been collaborating with the Mainland on environmental protection work. The two parties would reach a consensus on practicable long-term measures to improve regional air quality around end April this year. She agreed to convey the Council's interest in a visit to the Guangdong environmental protection authorities at an appropriate time.
27. The Chairman thanked the presenters and concluded that the Council supported the proposal. He hoped that the retrofitting programme for diesel heavy vehicles would commence shortly and be completed as soon as possible.
Agenda Item 4 : Hong Kong 2030 : Planning vision and strategy - Stage II public consultation - Key planning issues and evaluation criteria
(ACE Paper 2/2002)
28. The Chairman welcomed AD(T)/PlanD to the meeting. AD(T)/PlanD briefed Members on the exercise.
29. The Chairman pointed out that port activities formed a major part of Hong Kong's economy. He would like to know future port development proposals and their implications. In response, AD(T)/PlanD said that two key related studies - Port Cargo Forecast and Port Development Strategy Review were completed last year. He suggested that the Council ask for the reports from the Port and Maritime Board and decide whether Members would wish to have more detailed discussion with the Board. The location for further port development after CT-9 was not determined yet.
30. A Member considered that population was the fundamental factor for long-term development in Hong Kong. He said that the population in 2000 had dropped by about 300,000 after the Census and Statistics Department had revised the estimation methodology. In addition, the Chief Executive had recently been considering the possibility of formulating a population policy which could have significant impact on future population including the distribution. He therefore asked whether the Planning Department had adopted scenarios of different population growth rates in working out the development plans for the coming decades.
31. In response, AD(T)/PlanD said that they were aware of recent changes that would affect the population forecast. The Department would postulate different scenarios of population growth, taking into account factors like ageing, decline in birth rate, etc., in the next stage of the Study.
32. A Member said that since a large share of the manufacturing industry had moved out of the territory, there were quite a number of obsolete industrial buildings in old industrial areas. To better utilize land resources in Hong Kong, he suggested that those areas should be re-developed before developing any other new areas. He also pointed out that container exports in Hong Kong had been on a decline in recent years partly due to keen competition from Shekou and Yantian ports and partly due to the congestion of the cross-border road traffic. He cautioned that when the quota system from which Hong Kong had benefited in the past ended in 2005, container exports would suffer from a further decline. He therefore urged the Government to take into account that major economic change in the Study.
33. A Member concurred with Mr. Lee that old industrial buildings should be put into better use. However, he noted that some recent residential developments were not compatible with the land-use of nearby areas. He therefore suggested that a redevelopment project should be designed to cover a larger or the whole industrial area instead of just a few industrial buildings.
34. A Member commended the Department's endeavor to plan ahead and asked whether the planning process had any built-in mechanism to react to the changing economy and the changing aspirations of the community. He also agreed with another Member that the Government should ensure the best use of land resources and quoted the success of Manchester in turning an old industrial area into a new town. As regards the proposal of using reservoirs for water sports, he suggested that trials could first be conducted to assess the environmental impacts concerned. On a related point, he also suggested the use of the irrigation reservoirs as ecological compensation/mitigation banks under the environmental impact assessment mechanism since agricultural activities had become quite dormant. He also urged the Planning Department to integrate preservation of areas of high ecological value into the key planning issues under the Study.
35. A Member said that the Study failed to project the future of Hong Kong after 30 years. He could not see how changes in different sectors of the economy, for example the change from manufacturing to servicing industry, had been taken into account in the planning. He also queried whether it was the long-term policy to position Hong Kong as a cargo port if the Government intended to develop Hong Kong into a world-class city.
36. A Member suggested that the Government should take a more proactive approach in land-use planning. For instance, the Task Force (Black Spots) had been monitoring and controlling the illegal use of land in the New Territories. However in her view, instead of just taking reactive actions in response to illegal activities, the Government should make better use of those sites so as to eliminate the opportunity for abuses. For example, the Government should develop pockets of land into zones of special characteristics like the Soho area instead of leaving it to the market force. That Member also shared another Member's concerns about opening up reservoirs for water sports and was worried that human activities might spoil the natural resources.
37. A Member informed the meeting that he would directly send his personal written comments on the consultation document to the Planning Department separately. He pointed out that the Department should be more proactive in preserving and protecting the environment rather than adopting a reactive approach in minimizing adverse environmental impacts after developments had taken place.
38. A Member said that whilst the living standards in Hong Kong remained stable in recent years, those in Mainland cities would surpass Hong Kong soon. The current exercise would be an opportunity for the Government to adjust the focus of planning from a quantity-driven approach to a quality-driven one with emphasis on the quality of the living environment. It was also high time to give thoughts to the possibility of looking beyond the border to facilitate planning for regional integration.
39. In response to Members' comments, AD(T)/PlanD said that the Government had a clear vision of developing Hong Kong into Asia's world city. Most of the issues presented were related strategically to the quality of the living environment, for example, decentralization of jobs to the New Territories could reduce the demand for commuting and in turn achieve improvement in air quality. On regional integration, it was a new area of research and the Government had been putting in resources to obtain more information on that front. As for the utilization of existing resources, it was in fact a fundamental principle of the HK2030 Study. The Government had already relaxed the land-use of obsolete industrial areas to allow flexibility in redevelopment. As regards socio-economic changes, the report of the Commission on Strategic Development had dealt with that issue in great detail. Regarding the use of reservoirs for water sports, there was no intention to open up all reservoirs at the same time. The Department would make reference to overseas experience to ensure that disturbances to the natural environment would be kept to the minimal.
40. In response to the Chairman's enquiry, AD(T)/PlanD informed Members that there was close liaison between the Planning Department and other government bureaux/departments. On policy level, the Secretary for Planning and Lands chaired a steering group on the 2030 Study while the Director of Planning chaired a working group to examine the planning issues at the working level. The Chief Secretary and the Executive Council were also kept informed of the progress of the Study.
41. In response to a Member's suggestion of establishing an industrial/commercial zone along the border, AD(T)/PlanD said that there were various suggestions on how the existing Frontier Closed Area should be opened up for development. The Government would like to hear the views of the public on these suggestions.
42. A Member felt that the vision stated in the Study was too vague and she doubted whether the study could help Hong Kong achieve the ultimate vision. She requested to put on record the World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong's reservation on opening up reservoirs for recreational use on environmental grounds. She considered that the concept of sustainable use of old industrial buildings should be extended to other areas and urged the Government to expedite the review of small house policy and minimize the waste of land.
43. The Chairman said that land use played a critical role in the quality of life of a place. As far as social policies were concerned, land use played an important role in the well-being of community groups.
44. D of Plan said that it was not possible for the 2030 Study, nor was it intended, to provide solutions to all the problems that Hong Kong was facing. The Study set out the major strategic planning issues and problems for the next 30 years and tried to involve the community in the deliberation process so that the whole city would benefit from collective wisdom. The collective thinking process was perhaps more important than the study product itself. The Administration was aware of the difficulties in predicting so far into the future and therefore the scenario building approach would be used and extensive consultation was necessary. Land use was only one of the many factors affecting the quality of life. The Planning Department would be conducting more in-depth and detailed discussions with different organizations on various planning issues and he looked forward to the Council's participation and support in the future.
45. The Chairman thanked AD(T)/PlanD for the consultation and reminded Members that a forum on Stage II public consultation of the Study would be held on 26 January 2002.
Agenda Item 5 : Any Other Business Schedule of meetings for 2002
46. Members endorsed the meeting schedule for 2002.
The EIA report on Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line
47. The Chairman reminded Members that the EIA report on the Spur Line would be discussed at the Subcommittee meeting to be held on 28 January 2002 at 4:45pm. Non-Subcommittee Members were invited to inform the Secretariat if they were interested in joining the meeting.
Tentative items for discussion at the next meeting
48. Members noted that the Planning Department would consult the Council on the Study on Planning for Pedestrians - Stage I Consultation at the next meeting.