LSGI 4321      Geo-information for Urban and            Regional Studies                   Individual Essay“There is a rec...
IntroductionRecently, the operator of the Shrine, a columbarium situated at Yuen Long, wasconfirmed by the Court that it h...
experiencing different difficulties in handling some enforcement cases due to severaltechnical deficiencies in the legisla...
damage the natural environment and lead to such problems as flooding, pollution, trafficcongestion and nuisance to nearby ...
Post-classification can be performed in supervised or unsupervised manners.Supervised classification is that a human analy...
To effectively prevent unauthorized developments in rural New Territories, the CentralEnforcement and Prosecution Section ...
unauthorized development and is liable, he or she can be fined up to $500,000.00 in thecase of a first conviction. If it i...
III. cause adverse environmental nuisances to nearby residential clusters of substantial     size; andIV. involves uses no...
ReferenceLai, W. C., Ho, C. W. & Leung, H. F. (2010). Change in Use of Land - A Practical Guide toDevelopment in Hong Kong...
Wang, J. M., Qin, W. Z. & Li, D. R. (2006). Object-oriented Per-parcel Land Use ChangeDetection Integrating GIS and Remote...
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09296872d individual essay

  1. 1. LSGI 4321 Geo-information for Urban and Regional Studies Individual Essay“There is a recent public outcry to curb unauthorized developments inHong Kong’s beautiful countryside. Please suggest effective means todetecting, monitoring and prosecuting unauthorized developments inrural areas.” Student‟s Full Name: Tsang Hiu Lam Student‟s I.D.: 09296872D P. 1
  2. 2. IntroductionRecently, the operator of the Shrine, a columbarium situated at Yuen Long, wasconfirmed by the Court that it had violated planning rules (South China Morning Post,2011). Apart from the court case of the Shrine, several unauthorized developments inMa Shi Chau and Sai Wan were also reported by the local mass media in 2009 and 2010respectively. These reports have raised the public‟s concern about unauthorizeddevelopments in rural areas of Hong Kong. Such environmental groups as Associationfor Geo-conservation Hong Kong and Hong Kong Bird Watching Society even urge thegovernment to put more efforts on prosecution of unauthorized developments toenhance the effectiveness of local environmental conservation (AM730, 2011).In this essay, the Town Planning Ordinance will be first introduced, followed by thedefinition and possible impacts of unauthorized development. Means to detect, monitorand prosecute unauthorized development in rural areas of Hong Kong will then bediscussed. A conclusion will be given at the last part of the essay.Town Planning Ordinance and Unauthorized DevelopmentsTown Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131)In order to promote the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of thecommunity by making provisions for the systematic preparation and approval of plansfor the future layout of existing and potential urban areas, Town Planning Ordinance(“the Ordinance”) was first enacted in 1939 (Fung, 2005).In 1991, a major amendment to the Ordinance was made so as to extend the jurisdictionof planning legislation to the entire territory of Hong Kong (Lai, Ho and Leung, 2010),which empowered the Planning Authority to take enforcement action againstunauthorized developments in rural areas of the New Territories. The Ordinance wasfurther amended in 2004 to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of planningenforcement control in the rural New Territories.Before the Ordinance was revised in 2004, the Planning Authority has been P. 2
  3. 3. experiencing different difficulties in handling some enforcement cases due to severaltechnical deficiencies in the legislation. For instance, after an enforcement notice on anunauthorized development is issued by the Planning Authority, the operator concernedmay apply for planning permission to regularize the unauthorized development (Fung,2005). As an appeal is lodged by the operator concerned, the Planning Authority canonly take further actions after the decision on the appeal is announced. Therefore,further amendments were made to the Ordinance in 2004 to remove these technicalloopholes. Such amendments will be further discussed in the part of “Prosecution ofUnauthorized Development” in this essay.Unauthorized DevelopmentAccording to the Planning Department (2011), “the Ordinance empowers the TownPlanning Board to designate development permission areas (DPAs) and to preparestatutory plans for these areas. Land within an area covered by either a DPA plan or anoutline zoning plan (OZP) which has replaced a DPA plan is subject to statutory planningcontrol and the provisions on enforcement under the Ordinance”.Under the Ordinance, no person shall undertake or continue development within a DPAunless:-I. the development is an "Existing Use";II. the development is permitted under the relevant statutory plan; orIII. the development has been granted a valid planning permission under the Ordinancewhere a DPA is an area designated in a plan prepared under Sections 3(1)(b) and 20 ofthe Ordinance but does not include land included in a plan of an interim DPA; and"existing use" in relation to a DPA is a use of a building or land that was in existenceimmediately before the publication in the Gazette of notice of the draft plan of the DPA.Possible Impacts Brought by Unauthorized DevelopmentsThe unauthorized developments in rural areas of the New Territories usually includeconversion of agricultural land to other uses like open storage of construction materialsor machinery, container depots, car parks and workshops as well as filling of land, fillingof pond or excavation of land without planning permission (Planning Department, 2011).Apart from violating the statutory plans, such unauthorized developments may also P. 3
  4. 4. damage the natural environment and lead to such problems as flooding, pollution, trafficcongestion and nuisance to nearby residents. As a result of these serious impacts onthe environment and the community, enforcement against unauthorized developmentsis essential to curb further degradation of the rural environment in the territory.Detection of Unauthorized DevelopmentsUnauthorized developments in rural areas of Hong Kong can be detected by changedetection techniques of remote sensing.Land Use Change DetectionSingh (1989) defines change detection as the process of identifying differences in thestate of an object or phenomenon by observing it at different times. The basic principle inusing remotely sensed data for change detection is that changes in the objects ofinterest will result in changes in reflectance values or local textures separable fromchanges caused by other factors, for example, differences in atmospheric conditions,illumination, viewing angles and soil moistures (Wang, Qin and Li, 2006). In the otherwords, it is necessary to collect satellite images on a regular time-scale basis forperforming change detection.A wide variety of techniques have been developed for change detection. They aremainly divided into six categories: Algebra, Transformation, Classification, AdvancedModels, GIS and Visual Analysis (Lu, Mausel and Moran, 2003). Among these changedetection techniques, Post-classification under the Classification category is one of themost common approaches for change detection in practice.Classification Technique – Post-classificationAccording to Deer (2000), post-classification is the most obvious method of detectingchange, which involves the classification of each of the images independently, followedby a comparison of the corresponding pixel (thematic) labels to identify areas wherechange has occurred. The key factor of performing post-classification is to selectsufficient training sample data for classification. P. 4
  5. 5. Post-classification can be performed in supervised or unsupervised manners.Supervised classification is that a human analyst indicates a number of areas of animage and identifies what they are with collateral knowledge. The computer thenidentifies the characteristics of the data that comprise each type or area, and classifiesthe remaining image pixels in accordance with the identified type to which they are mostsimilar. For an unsupervised classification, the computer clusters or partitions the datawithout prior knowledge of classes, and thematic labels are applied, through collateralknowledge, at a subsequent stage (Deer, 2000).Post-classification can minimize the impacts of atmospheric, sensor and environmentaldifferences between multi-temporal images. It can also provide a complete matrix ofchange information (Lu, Mausel and Moran, 2003). Nonetheless, there are severaldrawbacks and limitations regarding post-classification approach:I. The final accuracy of classification depends on the quality of the classified image of each date.II. A lot of time and expertise are required to create classification products. Besides, classification techniques are relatively expensive. There is normally a substantial requirement for „ground truthing‟ to reduce uncertainty and error. Unsupervised classification, whilst possibly reducing the costs, is prone to higher error rates (Deer, 2000).III. Any subsequent classification and comparison is effectively constrained to the initial set of class labels.IV. Some objects may be unclassified and misclassified (Wang, Qin and Li, 2006).Notwithstanding the fact that humans are stronger in discerning patterns and shapes,computers, which are better at quantitative analysis than human, can also assist incomparing separately classified images. If computers are used to compare images, GIScan be used together with post-classification as a hybrid change detection method toimprove classification results (Lu, Mausel and Moran, 2003) as GIS approaches areeffective in dealing with change detection analysis using multi-source data. Monitoring of Unauthorized Development P. 5
  6. 6. To effectively prevent unauthorized developments in rural New Territories, the CentralEnforcement and Prosecution Section (CEPS) of the Planning Department undertakesthe day-to-day duties in relation to the enforcement and prosecution againstunauthorized developments (Planning Department, 2011). By regular site patrols andobservation of aerial photos, CEPS can confirm whether there is an unauthorizeddevelopment in a specific location. Besides the Planning Department, the LandsDepartment also acts on receipt of complaints or referrals regarding unauthorizeddevelopments.Apart from the above government departments, citizens in Hong Kong can also takepart in monitoring unauthorized development in the territory. They can report asuspected unauthorized development to the Planning Department by phone, letter, faxor e-mail. CEPS of the Department will then investigate and action accordingly -inspections on any suspected unauthorized development will be carried out and a replywill be given by CEPS within 4 weeks on receipt of the report (Planning Department,2011).Aerial Photos and Satellite PositioningAfter receiving complaints of suspected unauthorized developments, the relevantgovernment departments can have an overview of the site area of the suspectedunauthorized development with aerial photos. Before carrying out on-site investigations,one can check such information as coordinates and boundaries of the site area by usingGIS after locating the suspected unauthorized development visually.To obtain the accurate location of the suspected unauthorized development, satellitepositioning can be used to locate the extent of suspected unauthorized development(Lands Department, 2010). The surveyed extent of the suspected unauthorizeddevelopment can then be compared promptly with the map and information stored in themobile GIS. With equipments from GPS devices to laser rangefinders, the efficiency ofon-site investigations can be enhanced significantly.Prosecution of Unauthorized DevelopmentAccording to the Town Planning Ordinance, a person who commits an offence of P. 6
  7. 7. unauthorized development and is liable, he or she can be fined up to $500,000.00 in thecase of a first conviction. If it is a second or subsequent conviction, he or she can befined up to $1,000,000.00.As mentioned before, the Planning Authority has experienced a wide range of technicaldifficulties in carrying out its duties since it has been empowered to take enforcementaction against unauthorized developments in the rural New Territories in 1991. As aconsequence, the Ordinance was further amended in 2004 to protect the rural areasand minimize adverse environmental impacts on the residents of these areas (PlanningDepartment, 2004). The following are several examples of amendments made to theOrdinance in 2004:I. power to enter any land or premises (except domestic premises) or to have access via any land or premises (except domestic premises) for investigations on suspected unauthorized development;II. in forming an opinion on whether there is an unauthorized development, the Authority shall refer to aerial photos taken by the Lands Department, the relevant statutory plans and other relevant information; andIII. upon the service of a notice under Section 23(1), the notice recipient should discontinue the unauthorized development within a specified period. The submission of a planning application for regularizing the unauthorized development will not be taken as a reasonable step to comply with the notice as is allowed before the amendment was made.With a view to stop such annoying and destructive unauthorized developments, priorityguidelines for enforcement action against unauthorized developments in the rural NewTerritories have been set up accordingly. High priority will be given to the followingexamples of unauthorized developments which (Planning Department, 2006):I. are within or in the proximity of ecologically sensitive and important areas and conservation zones;II. involve filling of land/pond within "Agriculture" zone; P. 7
  8. 8. III. cause adverse environmental nuisances to nearby residential clusters of substantial size; andIV. involves uses not in line with those approved by the Town Planning Board.ConclusionTo conclude, it is crucial for the Hong Kong government to safeguard the beautifulcountryside of the territory for the purposes of effective environmental conservation andminimizing nuisance to residents of rural areas in the New Territories. As a result, thegovernment should allocate additional resources in assisting relevant departments todetect, monitor and prosecute unauthorized developments in the rural New Territories.Citizens should also be encouraged to report suspected unauthorized developments tothe government so as to protect the environment and ensure the safety of theircommunity. P. 8
  9. 9. ReferenceLai, W. C., Ho, C. W. & Leung, H. F. (2010). Change in Use of Land - A Practical Guide toDevelopment in Hong Kong. : Hong Kong University PressCheung, C. F. & Lau, S. (2011, November 4). Court Confirms „Shrine‟ an IllegalColumbarium. South China Morning Post違例發展檢控率低 港生物保育不足. (2011, October 7). AM730Fung, C. K. (2005). ew Planning System under Town Planning (Amendment) Ordinance2004. Retrieved November 1, 2011 fromhttp://www.hkdf.org/newsarticles.asp?show=newsarticles&newsarticle=167Enforcemnet of Unauthorized Developments in the Rural New Territories (2011).Retrieved November 1, 2011 from HKSAR, Planning Department Web site:http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/info_serv/cep/enforcement/enforce.htmFrequently Asked Questions (2011). Retrieved November 1, 2011 from HKSAR,Planning Department Web site:http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/info_serv/faq/index.html#q9Town Planning (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 - Information Pamphlet (2004). RetrievedNovember 1, 2011 from HKSAR, Planning Department Web site:http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/tech_doc/tp_bill/pamphlet2004/index.htmlPriority Guidelines for Enforcement Action against Unauthorized Developments in theRural New Territories (2006). Retrieved November 1, 2011 from HKSAR, PlanningDepartment Web site:http://www.pland.gov.hk/pland_en/info_serv/cep/enforcement/priority.htmSingh, A. (1989). Digital Change Detection Techniques Using Remotely-sensed Data.International Journal of Remote Sensing, 10 989–1003 P. 9
  10. 10. Wang, J. M., Qin, W. Z. & Li, D. R. (2006). Object-oriented Per-parcel Land Use ChangeDetection Integrating GIS and Remote SensingLu, D., Mausel, P. & Moran, E. (2003). Change Detection TechniquesDeer, P. (2000). Digital Change Detection Techiques in Remote SensingThe Hong Kong Satellite Positioning Reference Station - Data Services and ItsApplications (2010). Retrieved November 1, 2011 from HKSAR, Lands Department P. 10

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