英文

下一篇

Editorial : Too many myths about brownfield development

【明報專訊】OF the eight prioritised options shortlisted by the Task Force on Land Supply to resolve the land shortage problem, brownfield development is endorsed by 83% of Hong Kong people. The brownfield problem is a consequence of the government's thoughtless planning of land development. For the sake of proper utilisation of land and improving the rural environment, the government must grasp the nettle to overcome the myriad of irregularities. That said, brownfield sites are certainly not a panacea for land shortage. There is no painless option for increasing land supply. Many people understand that the land problem is imminent. But due to ideological reasons or self-interest, they have rejected land reclamation and other options. As a result, brownfield development has become the "highest common factor" — the option backed by the most people, but the bunch of operational problems and effects in real practice is largely ignored. There are too many myths in the current social perception of the brownfield issue. Overestimating the "curing effect" of brownfield development is unfavourable for finding the right antidote, which is a curse rather than a blessing to overcoming the land crisis.

In the New Territories, brownfield sites are more than a thousand hectares in area in total. According to the large-scale telephone survey commissioned by the Task Force on Land Supply, the most people supported the choice of brownfield development. The panel's report also affirms that brownfield development should be one of the major options to be implemented by the government. However, as pointed out by the task force, the strong popular mandate does not mean that brownfield sites can be "put to use at once". After all, with the large amount of economic activities on the sites, brownfield sites are not simply idle areas. Issues of relocation and compensation will be very complicated. There are many uncertain factors in brownfield development. Overestimating its effect on solving land scarcity and preaching impractically "brownfield first, blue and green later" may have a far-reaching impact on the problem.

There are many myths and misconceptions carried by some members of society about brownfield sites. For example, they think that brownfield sites are either deserted wasteland or used as scrap yards, container yards or recycling yards. In their conception, brownfield sites are murky places and a waste of land resources, and the government is unwilling to deal with the problem for fear of pressure from rural communities and so forth. Many people see brownfield sites as if they are eyesores and "public hazards", and think that brownfield development is a "painless" option that has "nothing to do" with them. However, the reality is in no way as simple as that.

To a certain extent, the brownfield problem is a consequence of the government's longstanding neglect in the planning of logistics land. The government's failure to make planning for supporting facilities has led brownfield operators to go about their business and occupy the sites wherever there is room, leading to the current myriad of irregularities. It is true that some brownfield sites involve illegal operation and even unauthorised occupation of government land. However, many brownfield operations like those of food logistics centres, electronic commerce warehouses and rebarring yards are closely related to people's daily life. From online shopping to food supply, people's daily lives have become dependent on services from these sites. On some brownfield sites hundreds of local workers are employed. According to government estimates, more than 3,000 people work on the 190 hectares of brownfield sites in the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area alone. If economic activities on these brownfield sites suddenly stop, not only will the workers' livelihood be affected, but people's daily life will also be impacted. Perhaps many may think some brownfield sites only involve "low-end operations". But such "low-end operations" are necessary to maintain the normal operation of society.

Brownfield development involves many problems with the requisition of land. The option is easier said than done, and the progress will be slow. This reality must be faced by the various sectors of society squarely.

明報社評2019.01.02:發展棕地迷思太多 認清真貌迎難而上

土地供應專責小組報告列出8個優先處理選項,發展棕地獲得83%市民支持。棕地問題是政府土地發展規劃不周的結果,為了善用土地和改善鄉郊環境,政府必須迎難而上,改善亂象,然而發展棕地絕非解決土地短缺的萬靈丹。增加土地供應沒有無痛選項,很多人明白土地問題迫在眉睫,卻因意識形態又或小我考慮,抗拒填海造地等選項,結果發展棕地成了「最大公約數」,成為最多人支持的選項,可是一系列現實操作問題和影響往往被忽略。當前社會看待棕地有太多迷思,高估發展棕地「療效」,不利對症下藥,對解決土地問題是禍不是福。

新界有逾千公頃棕地,根據土地小組委託進行的大型電話調查,發展棕地是最多市民支持的選項,小組報告亦認同,政府應以棕地作為重點推展的選項之一,然而正如小組所言,民意基礎強大,不代表棕地可以「手到拿來」,畢竟棕地有大量經濟作業正在進行,並非閒置土地,重置賠償相當複雜。發展棕地存在很多不確定因素,過度高估發展棕地對解決土地荒的作用,奢談「先棕後藍綠」,有可能影響深遠。

社會人士看待棕地,有很多迷思和誤區,例如以為棕地要麼是爛地,要麼就是廢車場、貨櫃場或回收場,烏煙瘴氣浪費土地資源,政府不願處理只因懼怕鄉事壓力,云云。很多人視棕地如同有礙觀瞻的「公害」,覺得發展棕地是「事不關己」的「無痛」選項,可是現實絕非如此簡單。

棕地問題某程度是政府長期忽略物流用地規劃的結果。政府缺乏配套安排,棕地作業者遂見縫插針覓地經營,衍生亂象。誠然,部分棕地涉及違規經營甚至霸佔官地,然而也有很多棕地作業與市民日常生活息息相關,當中既有食品物流中心,亦有電子商貿貨倉以至紮鐵工場等,市民日常生活,由網購到一些食品供應,都有賴它們提供服務。部分棕地工場還僱用了數以百計的本地工人。據政府估計,洪水橋新發展區涉及的190公頃棕地,就有超過3000名工人在工作。如果這些棕地作業突然終止,不僅影響工人生計,市民生活也會受到影響。也許很多人覺得部分棕地屬於「低端作業」,可是一個社會若要正常運作,就是需要一些「低端作業」維持。

發展棕地牽涉不少收地問題,各界必須直面發展棕地知易行難進度緩慢的現實。

■Glossary

grasp the nettle : to deal with a difficult situation firmly and without hesitating

myriad : an extremely large number of sth

go about sth : to continue to do sth

上 / 下一篇新聞