The subsurface in planning and decision-making - shared issues in hong kong and Glasgow

This Short-term Scientific Mission (STSM) was a contribution to COST Action TU1206 (Sub-Urban), and specifically between the British Geological Survey (UK) and the Geotechnical . of the current Working Group (WG) 1 city studies of the Action, and the reviews of good practice underway as part of WG2, by undertaking detailed assessments for both in Hong Kong. The subsurface is extensively exploited in Hong Kong, and there are very ambitious plans to expand its utilization, under the control of an advanced planning regime that takes considerable cognisance of the subsurface. The results contribute to: the reporting of WG1; have direct relevance to the subgroups of WG2, dealing with planning, data management and geohazards; and contribute to the Action's Toolbox (WG3).

The STSM facilitated an invaluable, focused period of knowledge exchange between BGS and Glasgow on the one hand, and GEO, DSD and PlanD in Hong Kong on the other, centred on key issues of subsurface planning and enhanced use of the urban subsurface.  The lessons learnt within this STSM are of benefit to all COST-participants, and not just BGS, Glasgow, and GEO. It is hoped the work of the STSM can be built upon to engage a wider group of COST participants and cities to become involved in the discussions.

The work by, and various studies carried out for, the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), Hong Kong SAR, and its sister government departments including Planning Department and Drainage Services Department, provide a benchmark example to COST city-partners and others to aspire to as to how the subsurface can be promoted, planned for in an integrated and sustainable way, and developed, especially in relation to the development of caverns intended for a wide range of uses.

The findings of the STSM are of considerable relevance, and applicability to COST Sub-Urban partners, and especially, but not exclusively, to its city-partners. These need to be promulgated widely therefore, to promote ‘best’ practice. The feasibility of transferring the subsurface planning culture and enhanced use of the subsurface as being practiced and implemented in Hong Kong to other COST cities will, however, be in part dependent on the different legislative frameworks existing in COST cities, and the different remits of city partners, and geological surveys. This will therefore require further discussion by COST Sub-Urban Working groups.

The STSM confirmed that the work being carried out by Glasgow City Council in Glasgow, with the support of the British geological Survey (BGS), to develop statutory guidance for planning of Glasgow’s subsurface, is following good practice. Visiting GEO/CEDD in Hong Kong, and other Hong Kong SAR departments, also gave a direct insight into the full potential of subsurface planning and enhanced use of the subsurface; something to aspire to on the basis of the work in Glasgow.

  1. As a follow up to the STSM, a city study for Hong Kong is being prepared as a contribution to the series of city studies being undertaken for Working Group 1 of COST Action TU1206 Sub-Urban. This will cover city typology (Appendices 1 and 2), geology (Appendix 1), and subsurface planning system (Appendix 3 etc.).
  2. The assessment of subsurface planning used in Hong Kong, and that being prepared for the next generation of the enhanced use of the urban subsurface, and associated cavern development in the Hong Kong SAR, will be provided as an exemplar of practice, to the Subsurface Planning Subgroup (WG2.1) of Working Group 2 of COST Action TU1206 Sub-Urban. This will be included in the toolbox to be prepared under Working Group 3 of the Action, for roll-out to city partners for testing, and wider roll-out in Europe and further afield.
  3. In return, two presentations have already been given to wider audiences than those specifically targeted as part of the STSM, to share knowledge and experience gained from Glasgow to Hong Kong practitioners, to:
    • The GEO/CEDD in an open GEO Seminar onGeological and geotechnical characterisation of the shallow urban subsurface for planning and development”
    • The Hong Kong Regional Group of the Geological Society of London on “From geological maps to 3D and 4D models - transforming the delivery and relevance of geological knowledge for practitioners”

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