The government has put forward proposals to make it easier for more reclamation to be carried out in Victoria Harbour, by relaxing a general ban on such work and cutting the paperwork required to secure exemptions under the Harbour Protection Ordinance.
The administration says "harbour-improvement" reclamation involving less than 0.8 hectares should not be subject to the protection laws, and neither should temporary reclamation under three hectares that will remain in place for less than three years.
Reclamation is already allowed in the harbour where there is an overriding public need.
But a Development Bureau spokeswoman on Tuesday said officials find it troublesome to spend years preparing the paperwork needed to justify such projects.
She said exempting smaller and temporary reclamation works from the laws would allow people to get closer to the water through new facilities such as boardwalks and landing steps.
"We want to remove barriers for harbourfront improvement works to get things done, and do it well," the spokeswoman said.
The bureau said the financial secretary could be tasked with approving exemptions, adding that the law changes would also apply to private reclamation projects as these too can benefit the community.
It said a public engagement exercise is planned on the proposals from next month, and the legal amendments necessary are expected to be submitted to Legco in the first half of next year.