Guide to the EIA Ordinance
The purpose of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (the Ordinance) is to avoid, minimise and control the adverse impact on the environment of designated projects through the application of the environmental impact assessment process and the environmental permit system.
The Ordinance comes into operation on 1 April 1998. Designated projects specified under Schedule 2 of the Ordinance, unless exempted, must follow the statutory environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and require environmental permits for their construction and operation (if applicable, and decommissioning). Designated projects specified under Schedule 3 of the Ordinance require approved environmental impact assessment reports but will not require environmental permits.
The provisions of the Ordinance are enforced by the Director of Environmental Protection (the Director). The Director shall take advice from other relevant authorities on matters prescribed in section 9.1 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process.
The Ordinance enables Regulations and Technical Memoranda to be made. Up to now, the Environmental Impact Assessment (Appeal Board) Regulation, the Environmental Impact Assessment (Fees) Regulation, and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process have been made.
This booklet is for explanatory purposes only and is intended to serve as a guide to the provisions of the Ordinance, the associated Regulations and the Technical Memorandum. In case of doubt, the reader is advised to consult the Ordinance, the Regulations or the Technical Memorandum which are all available on the website (http://www.epd.gov.hk/eia). Copies of the Ordinance and the Regulations are on sale at the Government Publications Centre. Copies of prescribed forms, information booklets and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process are available at the EIA Ordinance Register Office of the Environmental Protection Department at the following address:
The EIA Ordinance Register Office,
Environmental Protection Department,
27th floor, Southorn Centre,
130 Hennessy Road,
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Telephone No. : 2835 1835
Fax No. : 2147 0894
This Guide should be read in conjunction with the Ordinance, the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process, the Environmental Impact Assessment (Fees) Regulation and the Environmental Impact Assessment (Appeal Board) Regulation.
Designated projects are projects or proposals that may have an adverse impact on the environment. They are projects covered by the Ordinance.
The Schedules 2 and 3, which may be amended by the Secretary for the Environment by an order published in the Gazette, are reproduced in Appendix 1.
Schedule 2 consists of two parts: Part I for projects that require environmental permits to construct and operate, and Part II for projects that require environmental permits to decommission.
No environmental permits shall be required for designated projects that are exempted under section 9(2) or 9(3) of the Ordinance. Section 9(2) applies to designated projects that have been authorised, approved or permitted before 1 April 1998 under the following Ordinances or Regulations:
- section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance;
- Buildings Ordinance;
- Foreshore and Seabed (Reclamations) Ordinance;
- Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance;
- Country Parks Ordinance and Marine Parks Ordinance; or
- Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) Regulation.
No environmental permits shall be required for designated projects in Part I of Schedule 2 that have commenced construction or been in operation before 1 April 1998.
Material changes to exempted projects, however, require environmental permits under the Ordinance. A material change means a physical addition or alteration to a designated project which results in an adverse environmental impact as defined in section 6.1 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process.
An overview of the statutory environmental impact assessment process
The statutory EIA process is presented in a simplified form in Figures 1 and 2. The section numbers mentioned in Figure 1 refer to the section numbers in the Ordinance.
Before an environmental permit for a Schedule 2 designated project can be obtained, a person planning the designated project is required under sections 5 to 8 of the Ordinance to:
(a) apply for an EIA study brief, proceed with the EIA study, and then seek approval of the EIA report under the Ordinance; or
(b) seek a permission to apply directly for an environmental permit.
A Schedule 3 designated project requires an EIA report to be approved under sections 6 to 8 of the Ordinance. Once approved, the EIA report will be placed on the Register established under the Ordinance, and could be referred to in subsequent applications.
The public and the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) will have the opportunities to be involved at an early stage of the statutory EIA process. Under section 5 of the Ordinance, there will be an opportunity for the public and ACE to comment on the project profile before an EIA study brief is issued by the Director, or before a permission is given to the applicant to apply directly for an environmental permit. There will also be an opportunity under section 7 of the Ordinance for the public and ACE to comment on the EIA report before it is approved. These are further described as follows:
(a) Project Profile: on the day following the lodging of the application with the Director, the applicant will be required under the Ordinance to advertise the availability of the project profile. The public and the ACE may comment on the project profile on environmental issues covered by the Technical Memorandum within 14 days; and
(b) Environmental Impact Assessment Report: when the EIA report is considered by the Director to meet the requirements of the EIA study brief and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process, the applicant will be required to advertise the availability of the EIA report and make the EIA report available at specified locations for the public to comment for a period of 30 days. At the same time, the applicant will be advised on whether a submission to the ACE is required. The ACE may give its comments on the EIA report to the Director within a period of 60 days in parallel to the 30 days' public exhibition period.
The EIA reports and the project profiles can be accessed at the EIA Ordinance Register Office, the address of which is given in section 1 of this Guide. The project profile would be placed on the website during the exhibition period.
Comments from the ACE and the public will be taken into account by the Director before issuing the EIA study brief, approving the EIA report or giving the permission to the applicant to apply directly for an environmental permit. The decisions of the Director will be placed on the Register and can be inspected by the public during normal office hours at the address given in section 1 of this Guide.