Advisory Council on the Environment

Foreshore, Seabed and Roads (Amendment) Bill 2003

(ACE Paper 7/2003)
For information

This note updates Members on the proposed Foreshore, Seabed and Roads (Amendment) Bill.

Results of Consultations

At the meeting on 21 May 2002, we sought the views of the ACE on the proposed Foreshore, Seabed and Roads (Amendment) Bill. In the same month, we also consulted the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works on the proposal. The consultations revealed that whilst there was strong support to the expediting of public works delivery, there were different views on the reductions to the periods for the raising and resolving of objections. Both the ACE and the LegCo had concerns on the reduction of the two-month objection period to one month. Some LegCo Members were against the reduction of the nine-month period for resolving objections to four months.

After analyzing the public's views and reviewing the proposal, we considered that in view of the strong public aspirations to speed up the delivery of public works, there were merits to retain the proposal of reducing both the periods for raising and for resolving objections. However, to allay the public's concerns that the reduced periods might not be sufficient for their purposes, it would be desirable to introduce collaborative measures to enhance the public consultations and notifications of projects before and during the gazettal. The procedures for resolving public objections should also be enhanced.

Collaborative Administrative Measures

The proposed collaborative measures include -

  1. require the consultations of public works projects at the District Councils to be carried out at least three months before the date of gazettal. This will give enough time for deliberating a project publicly before the gazettal.
  2. enhance the sounding out of a project to the public. The measures may include the posting of draft work plans at prominent locations on site prior to the date of gazettal, meetings with residents' representatives or holding public hearings for large projects.
  3. when gazetting a project, we will display more notices on the site for public information and will publish the notices and relevant documents on the internet.
  4. we will require works departments to set up project steering groups to oversee the speedy resolution of objections raised for each project.
  5. where an objection is unlikely to be resolved within the reduced four-month period, we will ask the objectors for their views on whether a time extension will be useful to achieve resolution of an objection.

We consulted the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works on the above collaborative measures on 6 December 2002. In the meeting, the Panel generally welcomed the measures. Most of the Members either supported or had no further objections to the shortening of the period for raising objections from two months to one month and the period for resolving objections from nine months to four months. Only two Members still objected to the shortening of the period for raising objections.

Legislative Timetable

Based on the results of the consultations, we submitted the Bill to the Executive Council for consideration on 21 January 2003. The Council advised and the Chief Executive ordered that the Bill should be introduced into the LegCo. As publicity arrangements, we issued a LegCo Brief on 29 January 2003 and a press release on 4 February 2003.

The Bill was gazetted on 7 February 2003 and has been scheduled for first reading at the LegCo on 19 February 2003.

Way Forward

Whilst the Bill will be introduced into the LegCo for consideration, we are open to any further views raised to the Government on the proposal. We also welcome any views on the proposed collaborative administrative measures for enhancing the consultations and notifications of projects and the resolution procedures of objections.

Environment, Transport and Works Bureau
11 February 2003



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