Hong Kong Island


---Victoria Harbour

---Pokfulam / Route 7
---Pokfulam / Sandy Bay

---Aberdeen Harbour


- Lantau North
---Macau Bridge
---Lantau East - Route 10

- Lantau South
---Hei Ling Chau Prison

New Territories

---Sham Tseng
(Castle Peak Road)

---Shekou Bridge

---Tseung Kwan O
(formerly Junk Bay - proposed Western Coast Road)

Lamma Island
--- Yung Shue Wan

--- Kai Tak Redevelopment



Date: June 24th 2004
Location: Mott Connell Ltd., 40th floor, Hopewell Centre

Attendees: Hosting Groups

Mott Connell Ltd. (MCL) K.M. Yeung
S.M. Foo
Anne F. Kerr
Civil Engineering Department (CED) W.Y. Tang
K.S. Li
K.H. Yau
Security Bureau (SB) Charles Wong
Correctional Services Dept. (CSD) W.W. Cheuk
Planning Department (PD) W.S. Lau

Invited groups

Kadoorie Farm Wong Lun Cheong
Green Power Cheng Luk Ki Woo Lai Yan Karen
Save Lamma Campaign (SL) Cecilia Chu
Mishko Hansen
WWF Hong Kong (WWF) Clarus Chu

Points Addressed in the Meeting:

1. All attendees agreed that MCL would provide detailed minutes with clear
identification of the points raised by each group in this meeting. In addition, each invited group will later submit a separate document outlining their group’s position on the prison proposal.

2. SL questioned the extent to which the stakeholders’ concerns raised in the 1st consultation round had been addressed. CED said MCL had noted down in detail all the concerns by each group, and that these concerns were adequately addressed in the blue consultation document handed out in this meeting. Green Power and WWF pointed out that the summery of concerns in the blue document, which were extremely brief, did not reflect any of the specific points they had raised in the 1st consultation. Also they had never received any minutes from MCL. MCL said they will go back and check their records.

3. Members of the invited groups queried the percentage of opposition in the first round of consultation. CSD and CED both said they had not worked out the percentage number.

4. CSD went on to explain that MCL would produce a detailed booklet documenting all the issues discussed in each meeting in each round of consultation. But when asked whether this can be made accessible to the public, CSD said they were not sure because consent would need to be sought from individual groups first.

5. All the four invited groups made clear that the content of today’s discussion can be disclosed and be made accessible to the public.

6. CED restated that the scope of the Feasibility Study (FS) is to examine the “technical aspects” in regards to selecting a preferred land formation for the prison on Hei Ling Chau. Other issues, such as site selection process and policy matter are considered to be “non-technical” issues and are therefore not part of the study. However, they agreed try to provide answers for some of these issues in today’s consultation.

7. WWF asked if the government will continue to press the projects ahead if there is over 50% opposition. CED did not say yes or no, but said they are still at the preliminary study stage, and that all opposite views will be considered before the Financial Committee makes a final decision.

8. SL said pointed out the key problem lies on that Hei Ling Chau was a “given” from the beginning in the 1st consultation and there is no public debate on the site selection process. CSD stated these issues had actually been debated in at length in Legco since 2000, which they consider to be a public forum. PD added that the details of the debate were available on the web. SL stressed that one of the core issues of dissatisfaction in Hong Kong is that plans are only presented to the community at the last stages when almost all the important decisions have already been made. The Hei Ling Chau prison could be seen as an almost paradigmatic case having emerged after years of internal government processing and only brought to the community to discuss whether the reclamation should be a “square” or “rectangle” shape. It is therefore not surprising that consulted groups only want to talk about the “non-technical” issues concerning the justification of the prison itself.

9. SL queried SB on the forecast of prison population and whether they had anticipated an “ideal” population. SB said the ideal number is 20000. But the proposal was voted down in Legco. SL also wanted to know if it is correct that the Super Prison will come on line in 2013, but only meet anticipated needs till 2015, which was confirmed. SB explained that over-population was the norm and might be necessary again in the future.

10. Invited groups queried how the site search was first conducted. PD said typically all the sites were first identified by PD with consultation from other departments. However, PD also acknowledges that some sites were proposed without consultation. Invited groups queried as to the level of detail that went into the analysis of need for the super prison and into the choice of Hei Ling Chau from among the five “finalist” site options. Stated that “Information Booklet” which is supposed to justify choice has almost no information besides reiterating that Hei Ling Chau is the right option. PD said that they would provide more detailed information on the process of choosing a site.

11. SL asked whether the existing prisons could be upgraded and expanded to increase accommodation for more prisons. SB stated they have already tried their best to do so. But there are constraints to most sites, such as requirement of substantial land formation work. Some other sites are adjacent to private land which would require costly and complicated land resumption.

12. PD said the possibilities of refurbishment and expansion were debated in Legco. One major constraint is that most prisons were adjacent to country parks and its expansion will pose problems. PD and CS also said the details of the Legco debate is transparent and can be found on the government website according to the following dates:
Dec 7, 2000 Security Panel
Jun 7, 2001
Feb 7, 2002
July 9, 2002 Planning Land and Works Panel
Feb 26, 2003 Public Work Subcommittee
May 16, 2003 Legco Finance Committee
Aug 12, 2002 Island District Council
Jun 9, 2003 Island District Council

13. SL questioned the impacts of the HLC development on Lantau which has been designated as a conservation zone and targeted area for tourism development. PD said it was true that the area was in a coastal protection area for the S.W. New Territories, but that none of the proposed sites would be problem free.

14. PD explained that during the Legco debate the originally proposed 144 hectares prison development was scaled down to 80 hectares. But it is still impossible to find a perfect site with no impacts in Hong Kong. They agreed that a land-based option would be preferable, but the options are lacking. PD then briefly explained the constraints of each site. The large empty Firing Range area was considered to be too rugged and had substantial explosives to be cleared. The Yuen Long Plain had too much private land. Lin Ma Hang had and Kong Nga Po is considered to have significant economic development potential as a frontier area. Tung Lung Chau was considred to have too high conservation value.

15. PD went on to reinstate that the eventual selection of HLC is a balanced decision based on comparing the territorial development potential of each of the 5 sites. PD also said this is not to say HLC has no value, but after comparing with the value and potential of other sites such as eco-tourism it is still considered to be the “most suitable choice.”

16. Invited groups further questioned the potentials of frontier area -- SB explained that there are not that much developable land available – and certain land need to be retained as a buffer zone. GP stated that the area already contains low priority structures – why should they be there while the prison cannot?

17. SL stated much of the constraints in planning stems from the fact that 80 hectares is taken as a given. If the prison where somewhat smaller it would open many more possibilities for location. SL questioned the method by which the prisons to be located were chosen. It seems rather arbitrary that ALL of the institutions on HK Island and Kowloon must be moved, while the NT ones are ok. SL asserted that it must be possible to rank the institutions in terms of the ones most in need of upgrade / expansion. If so, it would seem that relocating the seven or eight highest priority institutions would gain most of the economies of scale, and that the return on investment money would be higher than the current proposal. In addition, having a large but less massive prison would mean that there would be many more suitable sites and no need for large scale reclamation, bridge building, etc.. The government representatives had no reply to these points.

18. SL further stated that despite the SB’s earlier statements about the inability to expand existing institutions, the current facilities on Hei Ling Chau and also on Lantau appear to be surrounded by abundant empty space and that putting a “large” rather than “super” prison at these or other sites seemed quite feasible.

19. SL queried how the 12 billion estimates for this project was determined and whether there is detailed research and analysis on the costs. SB said this will be part of the work of the Stage 2 feasibility study. SL then asked whether the cost and size of the project had any likely bands. SB said that the 80 hectares was considered a minimum for the requirements while the costs were still a rough estimate.
20. SB went on to explain the benefits of co-location -- economies of scale (8 prisons will be relocated – save manpower -- about 400 staff would be reduced compared to what would normally be needed given the institution size. SB explained that all five of the existing remand facilities would be grouped together, but SL pointed out that even if an argument existed for grouping these together there is no reason why they couldn’t be in their own facility rather than all together with the prisons.
21. SL pointed out organization problem of the proposed arrangement. Although there are many large prisons around the world the Hei Ling Chau proposal is actually just for a large land area in which the existing 15 prisons would be relocated with each maintaining their separate identity and administration. If efficiency is supposed to be the driver of this project then how is it that administrative and organizational efficiencies are not part of it? The SB replied that they would share certain facilities such as canteens, recreational areas, etc. SL responded that this is only a small part of the potential gains and that it seems quite bizarre that all these prisons would continue to be run separately as it undercuts the whole alleged rationale for the project.
22. The invited groups also questioned the real operational savings of the prison.

23. When asked whether the government would still consider other potential sites other than those already identified, PD said they welcome any proposals that are problem free. SL said the issue is not about providing “a problem-free solution” (which is impossible). It should be about enabling a more transparent and flexible process. SL questioned why the 5 remand facilities had to be grouped with the 10 prisons – if a prioritization of highest return of investment co-locations were made then the site choosing process would be a very different exercise.
24. PD said LIM (The Living Islands Movements) had proposed Pak Nai as an alternative site. But PD considered it not suitable because of its location in an ecologically sensitive area which is also full of explosives. Furthermore, the land is too narrow for development.
25. SL queried what is considered to be “narrow.” Again it seems the issue is that the 80 hectares prison is something unchangeable.
26. Kadoorie Farm pointed out that in the Planning Study HK2030, Kong Nga Po is not on the top agenda for development. But PD said in fact it will be a major development area. But the invited groups were not convinced that putting the prison in or close to the frontier areas would really stand in the way of this development. They also asked for more detailed comparisons of this site and Hing Ling Chau.

(MCL then presented a power point presentation their preferred option of land formation at HLC)

27. SL expressed concerns for lighting at night on the prison – MCL said directional lighting and other mitigation measures will be studied.

28. WWS queried what the basis was for this land formation – quantitative assessment? MCL said its assessment is based on desktop research. CED stated that more detailed research will be conducted in the stage 2 study.

29. SL asked that if any further study earmark money for the re-examination of other prison configurations and sites.

30. The four invited groups re-iterated their views that the problem with this whole project was that the process lacked transparency and legitimacy. This put the government, the consultants, and the community into a needlessly adversarial role. All groups officially confirmed their opposition to the project and that they were not endorsing any land formation options as they were beside the point.

31. It was confirmed that MCL would provide detailed minutes of the meeting within two to three weeks and distribute them to the attended groups for comment.