Govt urged to better resettle brownfield operators

Govt urged to better resettle brownfield operators

The government should formulate long-term logistics policy to better support the relocation of brownfield site operators affected by land resumption, lawmakers and logistics industry representatives said on Wednesday, as they warned of far-reaching impacts if storage facilities are uprooted by new developments.

Authorities have sought to reclaim more than half of the 1,600 hectares of brownfield sites in the New Territories to be developed for housing and other purposes, with a second phase of large-scale land resumption set to begin next year.

Currently, a portion of operations at brownfield sites involve logistics firms, warehouses, open storage facilities and vehicle maintenance workshops.

Lam Hoi-tat from the Hong Kong Container Tractor Owner Association worried that it would be difficult for logistics operators to survive away from brownfield sites, adding that officials should relocate them before reclaiming such land.

Transport sector lawmaker Frankie Yick, meanwhile, said the monetary compensation offered by officials to affected operators was not enough.

“Those people that are running the business right now would like to continue, instead of getting the money and close down the business. That’s why I think further assistance by the government in providing replacement sites is a more important issue,” he said.

“If you go to have a look at those warehouses that we have in Hong Kong, there are all kinds of products, our daily supplies – a lot of them – are there. If they are forced to close down… that will affect the daily lives of Hong Kong people as well.”

Yick added that there should be an established policy for developing and allocating land to the logistics industry.

At the Legislative Council’s weekly meeting, DAB lawmaker Edward Lau suggested re-settling affected brownfield operators on green belt areas.

In response, development secretary Bernadette Linn said that might not be practical.

“If the green belts are located in the vicinity of convenient locations, I’m sure they must have been teased out for the urgent housing development. If they are not close to road infrastructure, the formation cost would be much higher. Is it appropriate for brownfield operators to use as an alternative site?” she questioned.

But Linn said the government could push back its clearance operations when possible.

“We will closely liaise with land owners and business operators when proceeding with the clearance works. Where the works programme allows, we would defer the date of clearance, for instance, allowing business operators to continue to occupy the site with land ownership reverted to the government until the actual departure deadline, rent-free,” Linn said.

The development minister also pledged to provide reference information on sites that are more feasible for accommodating brownfield operators, by the first quarter of 2023.

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