Guidance notes

A Guide to the EIA Ordinance

4. Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process

The Director shall be guided by the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process when making all decisions relating to the issue of EIA study brief, the approval of EIA report, the permission to apply directly for an environmental permit, the issue of environmental permit, the imposition of environmental monitoring and audit requirements, and the conflict resolution among relevant authorities.

Key Contents of Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process
Bullet 12 sections and 22 annexes covering key EIA process steps and issues, representing the state-of-the-art EIA practices in Hong Kong;
Bullet requirements of a project profile (section 2, Annex 1 or 2);
Bullet factors for consideration in identifying adverse environmental impacts (Annex 3);
Bullet the issue of EIA study brief (section 3);
Bullet contents of EIA report (section 4, Annexes 11 to 19);
Bullet review of EIA report (section 4, Annexes 4 to 10, Annex 20);
Bullet environmental monitoring and audit requirements (section 8, Annex 21);
Bullet the issue of environmental permit (section 7).

5. Arrangement for environmental impact assessment reports approved before 1 April 1998

Schedule 2 designated projects will require environmental permits for their construction and operation. The EIA reports of these designated projects will be placed on the Register under section 15(1)(f) of the Ordinance if any one of the following requirements can be met:

(a) the EIA report has been accepted before 1 April 1998 by the Environmental Study Management Group for cases where submissions to the Advisory Council on the Environment (formerly known as the Environmental Pollution Advisory Committee) were not required; or

(b) the EIA report has been accepted before 1 April 1998 by both the Environmental Study Management Group and the Advisory Council on the Environment for cases where submissions to the ACE were required.

An applicant can apply for an environmental permit by making reference to an EIA report on the Register. The permit conditions will include the measures recommended in the relevant EIA report and any additional requirements imposed by the Advisory Council on the Environment or the Secretary for the Environment at the time of endorsing the EIA reports.

6. Arrangement for environmental impact assessment reports not yet approved by 1 April 1998

For other EIA reports not yet approved by 1 April 1998, the EIA study briefs will be placed on the Register under section 15(1)(b) of the Ordinance. The proponents concerned should continue with their EIA studies in accordance with the study briefs and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process. On completion, the EIA reports should be submitted to the Director of Environmental Protection for approval under section 6 of the Ordinance. The public and the Advisory Council on the Environment will be consulted on the reports according to the procedures in the Ordinance. The Schedule 2 designated projects will require environmental permits for their construction and operation.

7. Applications

7.1 Application for an environmental impact assessment study brief

A person who is planning a designated project should apply for an EIA study brief to proceed with an EIA study. Application should be submitted in the prescribed form together with a project profile that complies with Annex 1 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process. The application should be accompanied by the prescribed fee. The applicant is requested to send in an electronic copy of the project profile, where possible.

The project profile should contain sufficient information for the Director to identify what issues are relevant and what matters the EIA study should address. If the applicant does not provide sufficient information as required in Annex 1, the Director may within 14 days upon receipt of the application request further information to be submitted under section 5(4) of the Ordinance.

The project profile may cover more than one designated project. The applicant should describe clearly in the project profile the types and number of designated projects to be covered by the EIA study brief.

On the day following the submission of the project profile, the applicant should advertise the availability of the project profile in a Chinese newspaper and an English newspaper. The advertisement and the arrangement for public inspection of the project profile should be made in accordance with the , which can be obtained from the EIA Ordinance Register Office.

The Director will issue an EIA study brief to the applicant within the statutory time limits described in section 8 of this Guide, taking into account the information in the project profile, the public comments, the comments from the Advisory Council on the Environment and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process.

7.2 Application for approval of an environmental impact assessment report

An applicant should prepare an EIA report in accordance with the requirements of the EIA study brief and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process. The applicant should submit an application in the prescribed form, pay the prescribed fee, and deliver sufficient copies of the EIA report to the Director. The number of copies of EIA report required will be set out in the EIA study brief.

If the Director is satisfied that the EIA report meets the requirements of the EIA study brief and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process, the Director will advise the applicant when the report must be exhibited for public inspection, whether the advertisement is to contain any specific material, and whether a submission to the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) is required.

After receiving the advice, the applicant should make the report available in such numbers and at locations specified by the Director for public inspection free of charge for a period of 30 days. The applicant should advertise the availability of the EIA report in one Chinese newspaper and one English newspaper once every 10 days of the period. The advertisement and the arrangement for public inspection of the EIA report should be in accordance with the which can be obtained from the EIA Ordinance Register Office.

When required, the applicant should also present the EIA report to the EIA Sub-committee of Advisory Council on the Environment. The procedures and the arrangement for the presentation of EIA report to the EIA Sub-committee are described in the<Advice Note on EIA Sub-committee of the Advisory Council on the Environment<, which can be obtained from the EIA Ordinance Register Office.

7.3 Application for permission to apply directly for an environmental permit

The majority of designated projects will require EIA studies to be conducted. Only under the following three circumstances can the applicant apply for permission to apply directly for an environmental permit:

(a) the project has been adequately assessed in an EIA report already placed on the Register and the findings are still relevant. An application can be made under section 5(9) of the Ordinance and the project profile should comply with Annex 1 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process;

(b) the impact of the material change to an exempted designated project and mitigation measures can meet the requirement of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process. Figure 3 shows how to check whether a change is a material change under the Ordinance. An application can be made under section 5(10) of the Ordinance and the project profile should be prepared in accordance with the requirements in Annex 2 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process; or

(c) the impact of the designated project is unlikely to be adverse and the mitigation measures described in the project profile meet the requirements of the Technical Memorandum. Section 5(11) applies to projects which are proved beyond doubt that the environmental impact falls well within the guidelines and criteria laid down in the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures has been demonstrated in practice.

Similar to the application for an EIA study brief, an application in the prescribed form should be submitted together with a project profile that complies with Annex 1 or 2 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process. The application should be accompanied by the prescribed fee. The applicant is requested to send in an electronic copy of the project profile.

The project profile should contain sufficient information for the Director to decide whether the requirements described in section 5(9), 5(10) or 5(11) of the Ordinance can be met. If the applicant does not provide sufficient information as required in Annex 1 or 2 of the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process, the Director may within 14 days of the receipt of the application request further information to be submitted under section 5(4) of the Ordinance.

On the day following the submission of the project profile, the applicant should advertise the availability of the project profile in a Chinese newspaper and an English newspaper. The advertisement and the arrangement for public inspection of the project profile should be made in accordance with the , which can be obtained from the EIA Ordinance Register Office.

The Director will take into account the comments from the public, the comments from the Advisory Council on the Environment, the information in the project profile, and the Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process when making the decision as to whether a permission shall be given to the applicant to apply directly for an environmental permit and whether any conditions would be imposed.

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