Guidance notes

Assessment of Impact on Sites of Cultural Heritage in Environmental Impact Assessment Studies


  1. A "site of cultural heritage" is defined in Schedule 1 of the Ordinance and covers a wide range of sites, buildings, structures and other heritage features.

    6.1 Historical buildings and structures

    1. Buildings and structures of a certain age (currently pre-1950) which possess definite qualities, including historical, architectural, cultural, group and other values are identified by AMO.
    2. Historical buildings and structures range from places of worship, domestic dwellings, industrial and agricultural installations and establishments, market towns and walled villages, civil and military buildings and structures, etc

    6.2 Archaeological sites and structures

    1. While there is no one simple and infallible definition, it may be noted for reference that the Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage adopted in 1990 by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) defines archaeological heritage as "comprising all vestiges of human existence and consisting of places relating to all manifestations of human activity, abandoned structures and remains of all kinds (including subterranean and underwater sites), together with all the portable cultural material associated with them".
    2. In Hong Kong, consideration should be given to the local circumstances where the archaeological sites and structures are sites mostly buried underground, but some of them are standing above ground and contain material evidence of all forms of human activities including sea and land exploitation, settlements, burials, fortifications, etc., from pre-historic to historic times.
    3. Known underwater sites are relatively few in Hong Kong, but historical documents and archaeological evidence suggest that they may exist in fair abundance .

    6.3 Palaeontological sites

    Palaeontological sites refer to pre-Holocene geological beds of sedimentary rocks containing fossil remains of fauna and flora and their impressions. Known sites are normally located within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Detailed location maps of SSSI can be obtained from Agriculture and Fisheries Department and/or Planning Department.

    6.4 Other cultural features

    Other cultural features are items of antiquities in very varied forms which include old street furniture (e.g. lamp posts, fountains, etc.), stone engravings, foundation and boundary stones, milestones, lime kilns, graves, trackways, salt-pans, and many others. Their historical significance varies; however, together they are an important body of historical data evincing and recording the different stages of development and evolution of the city.

  2. Sites of cultural heritage of exceptional qualities and significance may be statutorily protected through declaration in the Government Gazette as Monuments, Historical Buildings, Archaeological Sites, etc., under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance ("the A&M Ordinance"). Relics (defined under the A&M Ordinance as fossils and objects/artefacts created, modified, etc. by human agency before 1800 AD) discovered after 1976 are, by law, properties of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Search and excavation for relics should comply with the A & M Ordinance. All discoveries of antiquities or supposed antiquities must also be reported.

  3. Depending on the scale, the scope and the location of individual projects, the Director may, in consultation with the AMO, stipulate requirements in the EIA Study Brief relating to sites of cultural heritage appropriate to the project area in question.