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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 51st Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 18 May 1998 at 2:30 p.m.

Present:

Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, JP (Chairman)
Mr. CHAN Kwok-wai, JP
Mr. Barrie COOK
Mr. Paul C. H. FAN
Professor Anthony HEDLEY
Professor Peter HILLS
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Professor LAM Kin-che
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming
Dr. NG Cho-nam
Mr. Otto L. T. POON
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH
Ms Iris TAM
Mr. TAN Teng Huat
Miss Alex YAU
Mr Plato YIP
Mr. Danny TSUI (Secretary)


Absent with Apologies:

Mr. Julian BARCLAY
Mr. Clement CHEN
Miss Ann CHIANG
Mr. Joseph M. W. LAU
Dr. the Hon. LEONG Che-hung, JP
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP


In Attendance:

Mr. Kim SALKELD Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands (Environment) (DS(E), PELB)
Dr. K.S. PUN Director of Planning (D of Plan)
Mr. S.P. LAU Assistant Director of Agriculture and Fisheries (Conservation), Agriculture & Fisheries Department (AFD) (AD(Cons), AFD)
Dr. Cindy Lai Assistant Director, Department of Health (AD of H)
Mr David CHAN Principal Information Officer, Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
Mr. Eugene FUNG Assistant Secretary (Environment), Planning, Environment & Lands Bureau (PELB)


In Attendance for Agenda Item 3 :

Ms. Linda SO Principal Assistant Secretary, Transport Bureau (PAS(T)8, TB)
Mr R.H. LLOYD, JP Project Manager/Airport & Port Access, Highways Department (HyD) (PM/A&PA, HyD)
Mr. C.K. MAK Government Engineer/Railway Development, HyD (GE/RD, HyD)


In Attendance for Agenda Item 4 :

Professor David DUDGEON Department of Ecology & Biodiversity, the University of Hong Kong (Prof, HKU)


In Attendance for Agenda Item 5 :

Mr. Steve BARCLAY Principal Assistant Secretary (Environment)2, Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PAS(E)2, PELB)


In Attendance for Agenda Item 6 :

Mr. Patrick LEI Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Waste Policy & Services), Environmental Protection Department (PEPO(WP&S), EPD)

*********************

The Chairman welcomed Mr. Tan Teng Huat, Director, Environmental Policy and Management Division, Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Singapore to the meeting. He thanked Mr. Tan for the arrangements that he and his colleagues had made for the ACE visit to Singapore last month.

 
Action
Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 50th Meeting held on 27 April 1998
 
 
2.The minutes of the 50th meeting were confirmed, subject to the amendments made to paras. 26, 28 and 30.
[Note : The revised paras. 26, 28 and 30 are enclosed.]

 
 
Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising
 
 
Paras 3-5 : Letter to the Friends of the Earth

3.The Chairman told Members that the Director of the Friends of the Earth (FoE) had replied to his complaint letter. (A copy of FoE's reply letter of 14 May 1998 was tabled). In her reply letter, the Director of FoE considered that she was only telling her readers what FoE believed was the case regarding ACE's endorsement of the Hong Kong Electric's (HEC) EIA report. She also said that under no circumstances should FoE's editorial independence be compromised. The Chairman said that he did not agree with the logic and arguments of FoE and had requested the Secretariat to draft a response for his signature. He asked the Secretariat to circulate the draft response to Members for their comments before issue.
[Post-meeting Note : The draft response was circulated for Members' comments on 22 May 1998 and issued on 8 June 1998.]
Secretariat

 

Para. 6 : Informal Meeting between ACE and EAC

4.The Chairman informed Members that he had sounded out the Secretary for Economic Services (SES) on holding an informal meeting between ACE and the Energy Advisory Committee. The latter had undertaken to consider his proposal. Subject to SES's response, he would request that the meeting be held as soon as possible, preferably before HEC submitted its final EIA report on Lamma power plant extension to ACE for endorsement later this year.

Para. 10 : Complaint to the Ombudsman

5.The Chairman informed Members that the Ombudsman had refused to consider his complaint against the Housing Department and the MTRC for not doing enough to prevent illegal dumping on the grounds that he was not a direct victim of the maladministration of these departments. Members noted that the Green Lantau Association had lodged a similar complaint to the Ombudsman and the latter was investigating into its complaint.

Para. 12 : Brainstorming Session on SUSDEV 21

6.The Chairman thanked Members for their participation in the brainstorming session, which was held on 9 May 1998. He told Members that the consultants would consult ACE again when Topic Report No. 6, which was on the guiding values, indicators and criteria for sustainability, was available in a few months' time.

Para. 15 : HEC's Comments on FoE Questions on the Need for HEC's Expansion Plan

7.A Member said that FoE would like to register their strong objections to HEC's comments on FoE's questions on the need for HEC's expansion plan. He said that FoE's objections were based on the following reasons :

(a)
 

it seemed completely unrealistic to estimate the Demand Side Management (DSM) potential of a single utility like HEC with the average DSM results for a whole country like the USA, where two thirds of electric utilities did not have active DSM programs;

 

(b)
 

even if the comparison between HEC and the whole USA was a valid measure of maximum DSM potential (which FoE did not believe), it seemed unrealistic and misleading to choose 1996 as a representative year for US DSM; and

 

(c)
  in summary, FoE firmly believed that incremental demand savings as presented in the 1996 US DSM data was not a proxy for estimating the maximum success of aggressive DSM by a single large utility like HEC, in whose service territory no aggressive DSM had yet been promoted. FoE considered HEC's presentation of the data to be highly unprofessional and misleading.

Para. 20 : DSM Agreements with HEC and CLP

8.Copies of the DSM Agreements which the government had signed with HEC and the China Light and Power Co. Ltd. (CLP) were tabled. Apart from the DSM Agreements, there were also the DSM Handbooks, which were technical reference supplement to the DSM Agreements. Since the Handbooks were voluminous documents, Members who were interested in the Handbooks were invited to contact the Secretariat.

Para. 50 : Possible cause of red tide

 

 

9.A Member commented that the discharge of ballast water from ocean-going ships into Hong Kong waters might be a possible cause of red tides, since the ballast water might be carrier of micro-organisms that caused red tides. AD(Cons), AFD thanked the Member for his advice and undertook to draw this to the attention of the expert group made up of AFD, EPD and the Hong Kong Observatory, which was tasked with monitoring red tides.

 

AFD

Para. 55 : Authority of AFD to allow maricultrists to move their rafts away from designated locations

10.AD(Cons), AFD reported that AFD was seeking legal advice on the issue and would let Members know the outcome in due course.

Action Checklist for the Implementation of Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance

11.As requested by the Chairman at the February meeting, the Action Checklist for the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO) was tabled for Members' reference.

Agenda Item 3 : Transport Infrastructure Development
(ACE Paper 20/98

12.The Chairman welcomed PAS(T)8, TB, PM/A&PA, HyD and GE/RD, HyD to the meeting. PAS(T)8, TB briefed Members on the general policy framework governing the future development of road and rail networks in Hong Kong. She said that Hong Kong would need to expand its transport infrastructure to divert traffic from the existing traffic bottlenecks and meet future traffic demand. Government would take into account environmental considerations in the planning and implementation process, as reflected by the choice of transport mode and route alignments. PAS(T)8, TB said that railways would form the backbone of the public transport infrastructure in Hong Kong, since railways had the smallest land take and would avoid air pollution problems associated with road traffic. On road based transport modes, Government also encouraged less polluting modes. Government had launched the LPG taxi trial scheme in 1997. Government also encouraged bus companies to use buses equipped with the more environmentally friendly Euro II engines. She said that the LPG taxi trial scheme had so far indicated that the level of emission of LPG taxis was much lower than that of diesel taxis, and Government would consider how best to extend the scheme to the rest of the taxi fleet upon the completion of the current trial scheme. She also told Members that the new bus franchisee, the New World First Bus Services Company, had undertaken to buy new buses with Euro II engines.

13.PAS(T)8, TB said that the two major transport studies currently being undertaken, namely the Third Comprehensive Transport Study and the Second Railway Development Study, would take environmental considerations into account.

14.PM/A&PA, HyD and GE/RD, HyD presented for Members' information plans which showed the proposed alignments of the major road and rail projects to be implemented or planned in the coming years. Members noted that all these projects would have to go through the proper EIA process as required under the EIAO. The Chairman requested and PAS(T)8, TB undertook to provide Members with copies of the plans after the meeting.

TB

 

15.The Chairman commented that government should be more far-sighted in the planning of rail projects. He said that at present government would consider constructing a railway only when they would be commercially viable from day one of operations. Because of this, residents of the more remote districts would have to wait and suffer for years before a new railway would be built to resolve their traffic problems. This was not the case for roads which did not have to pass any profitability test. He considered this undesirable and urged the government to start planning and constructing railways before the existing roads and railway reached their optimal capacity. He suggested that maybe for the first three years of operation, the railway could be allowed to have a breakeven return. PAS(T)8, TB agreed the importance of coordination between land use and transport planning. Indeed, one of the stated objectives of the Territorial Development Strategy Review was to develop a rail system preferably ahead of development, which in turn would stimulate development in the strategic growth area, and thereby contributing to a critical mass to produce a viable rail system. Lengthening the horizon of land use and transport planning would certainly help towards achieving this objective. The transport and financial justifications for individual railways would need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

16.As there was a limit to the additional number of roads and railways that could be built, a Member commented that government should consider curbing the growth of traffic by controlling the total number of vehicles. Another Member told Members that the Singapore government had been using fiscal measures to control the growth in the number of vehicles in Singapore. A person who wanted to own a car in Singapore had to pay S$25,000-S$60,000 for a certificate of entitlement before he could purchase a car. As a result, one might have to pay around S$100,000 to own a very basic car. The road tax was also exorbitantly heavy in Singapore. At present, any driver who wanted to enter the Central Business District (CBDs) between 7:30 am to 9:30 pm on the weekdays had to pay the road tax, which was in the form of a daily road pass at S$3. They also had to pay each time when they made use of certain busy thoroughfares or roads where ERP system had been installed. By October this year, all the major roads in Singapore would come under the ERP system and drivers would be charged each time they drove along those roads. The bills would be formidable for frequent road-users.

17.PAS(T)8, TB said that the Administration was aware that traffic problems could not be resolved solely by building more transport infrastructure and government was considering various traffic management measures to alleviate the problem. Government would use modern technology where appropriate to enhance traffic management, e.g. the extension of the Area Traffic Control System. She also told Members that the Administration had commissioned a consultancy study on the introduction of Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) System in Hong Kong. The study would be completed in 1999 and the administration would decide on the way forward afterwards. On Members' suggestion to use fiscal measures to control the number of vehicles, she said that this was a sensitive issue and the Administration was cautious about doing so.

18.A Member informed Members that the 1985 White Paper on Transport had projected that the total number of vehicles in Hong Kong would reach 460,000 before the year 2000 and 640,000 by the year 2010, due to the increase in the transport infrastructure. He said that as at to-date the total number of vehicles had already reached 460,000, which included 300,000 private vehicles and 18,000 taxis. In spite of the sheer number of private vehicles, most of them were not running on the roads for most of the time, as evidenced by the fact that they only contributed to about 3 billion km of mileage per year whereas the local taxi fleet alone attributed to about 2 billion km of mileage per year. He said that if government wanted to reduce the traffic flow at the CBDs in Hong Kong by 10%, it would need to reduce the number of private vehicles by 50% but could achieve the same effect by reducing the taxi fleet by just 10%.

19.That Member continued that two years ago the Motor Traders Association had recommended to the Administration to consider computerising all the traffic lights in the territory as a means to increase traffic flow, shorten the average travelling time per trip and, above all, achieve fuel efficiency. He asked whether the Administration was working towards that direction. PAS(T)8, TB replied that the Transport Department had already adopted a similar system known as the Area Traffic Control System in various strategic locations in Hong Kong and would consider expanding the system into the North-western and North East New Territories.

20.A Member asked whether HyD would consider providing both road traffic and a freight railway at the proposed Route 10. GE/RD, HyD said that was indeed the long-term plan of the government.

21.A Member said that he understood that, unlike other smoky vehicles, franchised buses which were spotted smoky did not need to pass the smoke emission tests at designated inspection centres before they were allowed to operate on the roads again. He said that franchised buses should not be treated preferentially, otherwise there would be no incentive for franchised bus companies to maintain their buses to the required emission standards. As there was no EPD representatives at the meeting, the Chairman requested the Secretariat to seek clarification from EPD after the meeting.

Secretariat

[Post-meeting Note : Members may wish to note that that Member had raised the same query at the 44th ACE meeting held on 20 October 1997 and EPD had provided him with a reply at the 45th ACE meeting held on 24 November 1997. According to EPD's response, which was recorded in the minutes of the 45th ACE meeting, franchised buses that were spotted smoky had to be properly repaired and pass the smoke emission test before they could operate on the roads again. The only difference was that the test would be conducted in the bus depot of the respective bus companies under the supervision of Transport Officers stationed in the depot.]

22.The Chairman said that ACE was pleased to learn that the Administration would integrate environmental considerations into their strategic planning process for new road and rail projects in future. He said that, apart from building more roads and railways, government should also make efforts to control the volume of traffic through various traffic management measures and minimise the environmental impact of road traffic through the use of more environmentally friendly mode of transport and cleaner fuel.

Agenda Item 4 : A Biodiversity Survey of Hong Kong
(ACE Paper 22/98)

23.The Chairman welcomed Prof, HKU to the meeting. Prof, HKU briefed Members on the background, objectives, scope and implementation timetable of the Biodiversity Survey. He told Members that the Survey was co-ordinated by Associate Professor Richard Corlett and himself and funded mainly by the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), with logistical support from the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong and particularly the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden. He said that the Survey had covered most of the areas in the New Territories, including major outlying islands and a few small islands, and had sampled various types of habitats in these areas, such as scrubland, grassland, wetland and forest, which were believed to be the homes of a wide range of wildlife. So far over 100 sites had been sampled and particular emphasis had been put on fung shui woods, freshwater wetland and habitat for selected groups including ants and amphibian as an indicator for habitat vibrancy.

24.Prof, HKU continued that the Survey would shed light on various aspects about Hong Kong's biodiversity on which the community at present had limited knowledge, such as the level of similarity in the species composition in different habitats and the geographical distribution of different species of wildlife. The first stage of data processing would likely be completed by the end of 1998 and a computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS) database would then be presented to the ECF. Upon receipt of the database, ECF and the Administration would be able to interrogate or supplement the database and use it to incorporate conservation or ecological data into planning and development strategies. He also informed Members that he and Professor Corlett intended to publish a book on biodiversity in Hong Kong, which would set out their analysis of the database, at a later stage.

25.The Chairman asked and AD(Cons), AFD informed Members that AFD would be responsible for updating the GIS database in future. The findings of the Survey that Hong Kong still supported a rich biodiversity and that new species could still be discovered despite its long history of human impact showed that the past efforts of conservation had been largely effective. AFD would carefully consider the recommendations of the Survey and refine its conservation strategy as appropriate. Members noted with interest Prof, HKU's remark that most of the sites which the Survey had identified as important wildlife habitats would come under statutory protection if AFD would extend the existing boundaries of the country parks by about 1% in area.

26.A Member asked whether the Survey would extrapolate what Hong Kong's biodiversity used to be like in the past and in future. He also asked whether the Survey would recommend means to protect wildlife and plant species in the urban areas. Prof, HKU said that it would be extremely difficult to reconstruct what Hong Kong's biodiversity had been like in the past or project the future trend, but reintroduction of selected species would be feasible and desirable. Also, wildlife or plant species which could survive in the urban environs were unlikely to be vulnerable species and would hardly require special protection.

27.A Member said that the GIS database would enable the Administration to decide scientifically and rationally which parts of Hong Kong should be conserved due to their ecological importance and which other parts could be developed. She also said that the conservation vs private land rights was an issue which needed to be addressed, as most of the places of important ecological values were private land which would be subject to development pressure. It would be beneficial if the Survey could indicate whether and how a certain habitat could be recreated so that certain private land could be developed subject to the implementation of off-site mitigation measures. Prof, HKU said that the re-creation of habitat through off-site compensation was a thorny issue because it was difficult to ensure that the habitat thus re-created would be suitable for the organisms. Timing would be another problem since re-created habitat would usually not be completed earlier than the development projects and organisms would have nowhere to go in the interval after their original habitat had been devastated and before the compensatory habitat was re-created. He agreed with that Member's observation that many of the important conservation sites belonged to private land such as the valley bottoms of indigenous villages. In this regard, he said that government would need to come up with novel approach to conservation and planning if they wanted to preserve these important areas. One possibility was to adopt a package approach to integrate nature conservation with heritage protection and for government to provide incentives to villagers who were willing to preserve their ancestral halls and their fung shui woods.

28.In response to a Member's query, Prof, HKU clarified that it was outside the scope of the Biodiversity Survey to sample wildlife below the water mark.

29.The Chairman thanked Prof, HKU for his presentation. He said that ACE looked forward to the findings and recommendations of the Survey.

Agenda Item 5 : The Green Manager Scheme
(ACE Paper 23/98)

30.The Chairman welcomed PAS(E)2, PELB to the meeting. PAS(E)2, PELB briefed Members on the progress the Administration had so far made in implementing the Green Manager Scheme (GMS).

31.Noting that only 16 bureaux/departments had participated in the enabling workshop held in December 1997, the Chairman asked whether this implied that the remaining departments were not enthusiastic enough in implementing the GMS. PAS(E)2, PELB explained that all government departments were implementing their respective programmes of green housekeeping but the extent of participation varied. He said that the 16 departments selected for the workshop were the most proactive in implementing the GMS and would benefit most from the workshop through the sharing of experiences.

32.A Member told Members that green housekeeping was also actively pursued by companies in the private sector. His own experience was that firm commitment from the top echelon and communication with staff at all levels were the keys to success in the implementation of green housekeeping. Another Member commented that since business operating costs could be reduced by using less paper and electricity, there were strong incentives for business operators to implement green housekeeping.

33.In response to a Member's query, PAS(E)2, PELB said that although Hong Kong did not have a formal green purchasing or preferential purchasing policy, the Administration was placing more emphasis on environmental considerations when procuring equipment and materials.

34.Noting that government had spent $5.6 million on two consultancy studies to assist departments and bureaux to implement environmental audits and environmental management systems, a Member asked whether the government had assessed the cost-effectiveness of the various green housekeeping measures so far introduced by bureaux/departments. PAS(E)2, PELB said that much of the consultants' work was educational in nature, the benefits of which were likely to be long term and thus difficult to assess.

35.Noting that the consumption of paper within the Administration had increased by 14% in 1997, a Member asked whether this was due to the need to print new stationery with the new HKSAR logo and letterheads because of the Handover and, if so, whether the consumption of papers would likely decrease this year. He also asked how waste paper generated by different bureaux/departments would be disposed of. PAS(E)2, PELB said that the sharp increase in the consumption of paper in 1997 was probably due at least partly to the need to print new stationery. He hoped future paper consumption would be reduced. He said that waste paper generated from different bureaux/departments was collected by the waste contractors who then sold them to recyclers.

36.A Member proposed the introduction of the "best green manager award" as a means to provide incentives to green managers. PAS(E)2, PELB thanked Dr. Ng for the suggestion but remarked that it would not be easy to set objective criteria for the award.

37.A Member asked whether green managers who had encountered difficulties in implementing GMS could resort to PELB or EPD for technical assistance. PAS(E)2, PELB said that green managers of government departments and private companies could approach EPD for assistance as and when necessary.

38.A Member said that he had watched a TV programme a fortnight ago which reported that waste paper collected by school students for recycling had to be disposed of at landfills since there were no buyers. He said that this would nullify any publicity efforts to educate and encourage the young to recycle papers. Another Member said that FoE had also encountered similar problems in the past. The Chairman remarked that Hong Kong required a robust recycling industry in order to support its recycling activities. A third Member said that he understood that some local recyclers were reluctant to purchase waste paper from private waste collectors because some unscrupulous waste collectors would moisten the waste papers before selling them to the recyclers. This was because the heavier the waste paper, the more money they could get.

39.A Member said that in Singapore the Ministry of the Environment encouraged government departments to recycle paper by allowing them to use the proceeds from selling waste papers for staff welfare purposes. As a further step to save paper, departments were encouraged to communicate through E-mail. He however said that the Singapore government also faced the same problems as Hong Kong in handling the waste papers collected for recycling purpose.

 

 

40.The Chairman thanked PAS(E)2, PELB for the update and requested that ACE be updated on the progress again in 12 months' time.

41.The Chairman asked when the Waste Reduction Plan would be published. DS(E), PELB said that the Administration aimed to publish the Plan before the Chief Executive's Policy Address 1998, which would be delivered in October 1998. ACE would be briefed on the Plan when available.

Agenda Item 6 : Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) (Amendment) Regulation 1998
(ACE Paper 24/98)

42.The Chairman welcomed PEPO(WP&S), EPD to the meeting. PEPO(WP&S), EPD briefed Members on the proposed amendments to the Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) Regulation (the Sewerage Regulation).

43.A Member was of the view that since the proposed amendment to enable DEP to close roads on limited scale for carrying out sewerage works without having to go through the gazettal procedures would affect the interest of the local people, District Boards should be consulted. The Chairman said that he was more concerned about whether the proposed amendments would deprive members of the public of the proper channel to raise their objections. DS(E), PELB said that objections from members of the public were unlikely for road closure of a limited scale. Members of the public who were aggrieved by the road closure could take legal proceedings against the department. PEPO(WP&S), EPD supplemented that although road closure of a limited scale would not be required to go through the gazettal procedure after the proposed amendment, the works departments would still consult the locals and resolve their objections as far as possible before works commenced.

44.In response to some Members' concern, DS(E), PELB further explained that similar arrangements regarding the closure of roads of a limited scale already existed under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (the Roads Ordinance). Under Section 4 of the Roads Ordinance, the Secretary for Transport (S for T) may authorise road closure of a limited scale without having to go through the gazettal procedure and no major problems had so far been encountered. He emphasized that in no circumstances would the Administration close a road completely if that road was the only access between two places. The Principal Assistant Secretary (Environment)3, PELB said that it had been the Administration's original intention to apply Section 4 of the Roads Ordinance to the Sewerage Regulation when drafting the Sewerage Regulation. The Administration was only seeking to standardise the requirements regarding road closure of a limited scale under the Sewerage Regulation and the Roads Ordinance.

45.Three Members commented that, unlike S for T, DEP did not have the expertise to judge whether a proposed road closure would likely affect the traffic flow significantly. In this regard, PEPO(WP&S), EPD assured Members that DEP would seek the advice of all relevant departments, including TD, in exercising his power. DS(E), PELB added that all road closure would need to be considered by the Roads Opening Committee, which would ensure that road openings were carried out in a co-ordinated and rational manner and that the inconvenience to the public would be minimised.

46.In view of the assurance from PELB and EPD, the Chairman proposed that ACE endorsed the proposed amendments to the Sewerage Regulation on the condition that the Administration would review and report to ACE the actual situation one year after the enactment of the Amendment Regulation. If there was evidence which indicated that the interest of the public had been compromised as a result of the proposed amendments, the Administration should further amend the Sewerage Regulation to restore it to the original effect. Members agreed.

Agenda Item 7 : Any Other Business

Request from the Hong Kong Journalists Association for Opening ACE Meetings

47.The Chairman said that, in response to the Hong Kong Journalists Association's (HKJA) request for ACE to discuss the issue of "opening meetings" in public, he had asked the Secretariat to request Members to indicate before this meeting whether they would agree to discuss the issue at this meeting and, if so, whether the discussion should be open to the press. He informed Members that the Secretariat had received the responses from 19 Members. Among them, 12 did not consider it necessary to revisit the issue. As regards the remaining seven who agreed to discuss the issue at this meeting, five did not agree to hold the discussion in public. He said that he would follow the majority view that ACE should not open its meetings to the public. He however offered new members the opportunity to express their views on the issue.

48.A Member said that at the brainstorming session on SUSDEV 21 held on 9 May 1998, Members generally believed that the long term solution to environmental problems would be to strengthen public awareness of the importance of environmental protection and arouse their general interest in environmental matters. She said that since opening ACE meetings might serve this objective, she supported the opening of ACE meetings.

49.A Member said that since most of the issues discussed by ACE were not of a sensitive nature, he did not object to conducting ACE meetings in the public. He remarked that many other advisory boards and committees had already opened their meetings and ACE should follow suit.

50.A Member said that she did not object to open ACE meetings but did not consider it absolutely necessary to do so since adequate channels already existed for the public to gain access to information about ACE meetings. However, to further enhance the transparency of ACE, she proposed that the confirmed minutes of ACE meetings and the text of ACE papers be put onto the Internet in future. Members agreed.

51.A Member said that since the minutes of the meeting would be made available onto the Internet, they should not make reference to individual members. Another Member said that if the minutes did not record who said what, it would be rather difficult for Members to comment on the minutes since they did not know whether a certain statement was made by him or other Members. He therefore proposed that the draft minutes should make reference to individual members as they used to be but the confirmed minutes should not. The Chairman agreed to this arrangement.

Visit to China Light & Power Co. Ltd.'s Power Facilities

52.The Chairman informed Members that the visit would take place on 19 May 1998.

Visit to the New Airport and Cathay Pacific's Headquarters at Chek Lap Kok

53.The Chairman informed Members that a visit to the new airport and Cathay Pacific's new Headquarters at Chek Lap Kok was scheduled for 4 June 1998.

Tentative Schedule of Work for ACE in 1998

54.Members noted the Schedule tabled.

Agenda Item 8 : Date of Next Meeting

55.The next meeting was scheduled for 29 June 1998.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (Environment Division)
June 1998

PELB

 

 

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