The Chairman welcomed Mr. Eddie CHENG who had replaced Ms. Cora SO upon her transfer. On behalf of Members, the Chairman thanked Ms. So for her service to the Council in the past years.
Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 99th Meeting held on 27 August 2002
2. The minutes were confirmed without amendment.
Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising
Matters arising from the minutes of 99th meeting
Para. 15: Data on air pollution concentration relating to the Deep Bay Link Project
3. The Chairman informed the meeting that the Secretariat had circulated the data provided by the project proponent to Members of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Subcommittee.
Para. 19 : Council on Sustainable Development & Para. 20 : Briefings on the Computer Aided Sustainability Evaluation Tools System, the Third Comprehensive Transport Study and the Hong Kong 2030 Study
4. The Chairman informed Members that the Secretariat had passed on their concerns about the establishment of the Council for Sustainable Development to the Sustainable Development Unit who had undertaken to brief the Council on the operation of the Computer Aided Sustainability Evaluation Tools System after completing a review of the System. The Secretariat had also approached the relevant bureau/department inviting them to brief Members on the Third Comprehensive Transport Study and Hong Kong 2030 Study. The necessary arrangements would be made once the bureau/department were ready.
Para.22 : Luncheon meeting with the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works on 4 October 2002
5. The Chairman informed Members that he had conveyed the concerns of the Council raised at the last meeting to Dr. Sarah Liao at the luncheon meeting on 4 October 2002.
Agenda Item 3 : Report on the 74th meeting of the Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee
(ACE Paper 29/2002)
EIA report on Ngong Ping Sewage Treatment Works and Sewerage
6. The Subcommittee Chairman summarized the major concerns of the Subcommittee on the EIA report on Ngong Ping Sewage Treatment Works and Sewerage. Members agreed to endorse the EIA report and supported the views set out in paragraphs 15-17 of ACE Paper 29/2002.
EIA report on Shenzhen Western Corridor
7. The Subcommittee Chairman reported the major concerns of the Subcommittee regarding the EIA report on Shenzhen Western Corridor (SWC), particularly the possible impact of the project on Hong Kong's air quality in the long run.
8. A Member commented on the data generated by the air pollutant concentration modeling for the Deep Bay Link project, which was directly related to the SWC project. He said that judging from the data, there would be further degradation in air quality over the next two decades. However, the data were insufficient to show the exact impact of the project on air quality because the project proponent only provided data for the worst-case year of 2021 and did not indicate the margin of error of the modeling results. There were particular concerns about the latter point since a number of the estimations were only one to two μg/m3 from the compliance level (135μg/m3 i.e. 90% centile of the 24 hours air quality objectives of nitrogen dioxide) adopted by the model. At present, a model (at 10μg/m3 increments) was available to estimate the impacts of air pollution on hospital admission and premature deaths. The trend of the possible impact of the project on public health could be predicted if the current data of pollution concentration and the estimated data in say 2005, 2010 and 2015 could be made available. Such information would be more meaningful than whether the project would comply with the Air Quality Objectives (AQOs).
9. The Chairman asked whether the EIA of the project was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the EIA Ordinance. The Subcommittee Chairman replied that according to the report, the EIA had complied with the requirements of the EIA Ordinance, the Technical Memorandum as well as the AQOs. However, he agreed that there seemed to be a trend of deterioration of air quality. After some discussion, it was agreed that, not as part of the Council's consideration of the EIA report, the Subcommittee should ask the project proponent to provide the information as suggested by the above Member so that Members could better understand the situation regarding the future air quality in the area concerned. The Secretariat should make it clear to the project proponent that the provision of the additional information would be separate from consideration by the Council of the EIA report.
10. Mr. Rob Law said that the current set of AQOs had been discussed a number of times at the Council meetings. Unless and until changes were made to it, EIA reports should continue to be assessed on the basis of prevailing standards including the current set of AQOs. Air quality was a complex issue and was under the influence of many factors. It would not be appropriate to attribute the general degradation of air quality to just one project. He agreed that the Council should discuss the AQOs in due course.
11. A Member pointed out that traffic congestion was an important cause of air pollution in Hong Kong since the engines of the vehicles would be left idling during traffic congestion. The quantity of pollutants so emitted would be greater than the amount emitted when the vehicles were moving. With better road network and less traffic congestion, there should be marked improvement in air quality. Furthermore, vehicles using the SWC would mainly be Hong Kong vehicles and the fuel and vehicle standards in the Mainland were improving rapidly. In his opinion, the impact of the project on air pollution would not be as bad as the worst-case scenario set out in the EIA report.
12. A Member said that the clearance of oyster bed, being an insignificant issue in the EIA report, might well be excluded from the report of the Subcommittee. That was because oyster beds were artificial farming and could be moved from place to place. They were not part of the natural environment. The Subcommittee Chairman explained that the report aimed to present a full picture of what had been discussed at the Subcommittee meeting.
13. In reply to the Chairman's enquiry, the Subcommittee Chairman said that the executive summary of the EIA report prepared by the Shenzhen side was not yet available. The Chairman pointed out that since more and more projects would involve Hong Kong and the Mainland, it would be greatly beneficial if the two sides could agree on a set of protocol on cross boundary projects for future compliance.
14. After discussion, Members agreed to endorse the EIA report on SWC with conditions set out in paragraph 34 of ACE Paper 29/2002. Members also agreed that the Subcommittee should request the project proponent to provide the relevant estimated air pollution concentration for the current year and for years 2005, 2010 and 2015 for Members' information outside the context of the EIA process. The information obtained should not affect the Council's recommendation to the Director of Environmental Protection.
EIA report on the Construction of Lung Kwu Chau Jetty
15. Members agreed to endorse the report with conditions set out in paragraph 37 of ACE Paper 29/2002.
Agenda Item 4 : Any Other Business
Tentative items for discussion at the next meeting
16. The Chairman informed the meeting that apart from the report of the Subcommittee, the tentative items for the next meeting were the progress of work of the Inter-departmental Working Group on Flytipping Control and the proposed amendments to the Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance. The Government Supplies Department was still preparing the paper on guidelines on green purchasing and would brief the Council on the subject once the document was ready.
Agenda Item 5 : Date of Next Meeting
17. The next meeting, which would be merged with the meeting originally scheduled for 26 November 2002, would be held on Thursday 5 December 2002 at 2:30 pm.