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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 52nd Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 29 June 1998 at 2:30 p.m.

Present:

Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, JP (Chairman)
Mr. Barrie COOK
Mr. Clement CHEN
Professor Anthony HEDLEY
Professor Peter HILLS
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Professor LAM Kin-che
Mr. Joseph M. W. LAU
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming
Dr. NG Cho-nam
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH
Ms Iris TAM
Miss Alex YAU
Mr Plato YIP
Mr. Danny TSUI (Secretary)


Absent with Apologies:

Mr. Julian BARCLAY
Mr. CHAN Kwok-wai, JP
Miss Ann CHIANG
Mr. Paul C. H. FAN
Dr. the Hon. LEONG Che-hung, JP
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP
Mr. Otto L. T. POON
Mr. TAN Teng Huat


In Attendance:

 

Mr. Bowen LEUNG Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL)
Mr. Kim SALKELD Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands (Environment) (DS(E), PELB)
Mr. Rob LAW Director of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Mr. Bosco FUNG Acting Director of Planning (Ag. D of Plan)
Mr. S.P. LAU Assistant Director(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)4, Planning, Environment & Lands Bureau (PELB) (AS(E)4, PELB)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 4 :
 
Mr. Clinton LEEKS Corporate Development Director, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) (CDD, AA)
Mr. Rick MORSE Environmental Manager, AA (EM, AA)
Mr. Simon LI Chief Planning Officer, Civil Aviation Department (CPO, CAD)
Mr. Simon HUI Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Audit Assessment), Environmental Protection Department (EPD) (PEPO (AA), EPD)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 5 :
 
Mr. W.Y. KAM Deputy Commissioner (Planning and Technical Services), Transport Department (TD) (DC(P&TS), TD)
Mr. Anthony LOO Chief Engineer (Territory Transport Planning), TD (CE(TTP), TD)
Mr. Mike CLARK Wilbur Smith Associates Limited (Consultant, WSA)
Mr. Freeman CHEUNG ERM Hong Kong Limited (Consultant, ERM)
Dr. Alain LAM Acting Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Air Policy), EPD (Ag. PEPO (AP), EPD)



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



  Action
Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 51st Meeting held on 18 May 1998  
 
The minutes of 51st meeting were confirmed, subject to the amendments made to para. 27.
[Note : The revised para. 27 is enclosed.]
 
 
Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising  
 
Para. 3 : Letter to the Friends of the Earth  
 
2.Members noted that the letter to the Friends of the Earth was issued on 8 June 1998.  
 
Para. 4 : Informal Meeting between ACE and EAC
 
3.The Chairman said that he had sounded out Professor Charles Kao, Chairman of the Energy Advisory Committee (EAC), on the proposal for convening a joint meeting between ACE and EAC to discuss the need for additional power generating facilities in Hong Kong. He said that Professor Kao had promised to assist in arranging the joint meeting. To start the ball rolling, the Chairman requested the Secretariat to make a formal request to Professor Kao in writing.



Secretariat
 
Para. 10 : Authority of AFD to allow mariculturists to move their rafts away from designated locations  
 
4.Members noted the legal advice that mariculturists might have contravened section 6 of the Marine Fish Culture Ordinance for maintaining fish in captivity without a permit when they moved the raft during the red tide. But since fish farmers could not be expected to apply for a permit from the Director of Agriculture and Fisheries under such urgent situation, it would be unfair, if not draconian, to institute prosecutions against them. To protect the interest of the fish farmers, the Chairman urged AFD to consider regularising actions taken by fish farmers to move their rafts away from the Fish Culture Zones during the red tide saga which aimed to prevent further fish losses.  
 
Para. 14 : Maps/plans on future railway and road network in Hong Kong  
 
5.The Chairman said that the maps/plans on future railways and road network had been sent to Members on 29 June 1998.  
 
Agenda Item 3 : Report of EIA Subcommittee
(ACE Paper 28/98)
 
 
6.The EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that at the meeting held on 1 June 1998, the EIA Subcommittee considered a supplementary paper to the EIA for the Main Drainage Channel for Fanling, Sheung Shui and Hinterland, which provided details on the ecological mitigation measures to be established within the abandoned meanders created by the associated river training works. This Council had endorsed the EIA report for the river training project in November 1997 with five conditions, including a requirement for the project proponent to submit the details of the mitigation measures to be taken. He said that the EIA Subcommittee was content with the design, management and monitoring programmes of the ecological mitigation measures set out in the supplementary paper and recommended that the paper be endorsed without conditions. Members agreed.  
 
7.The Chairman asked whether AFD and DDS had answered a Member's query about their respective role in monitoring the cumulative impacts of the project on the ecology. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman explained that DSD had agreed to share their routine hydrological data with AFD for the purpose of carrying out the wetland study.  
 
Agenda Item 4 : New Airport Master Plan - EIA Update
(ACE Paper 30/98)
 
 
8.The Chairman welcomed CDD, AA, EM, AA, CPO, CAD and PEPO(AA), EPD to the meeting. EM, AA briefed Members on the findings of the New Airport Master Plan EIA Update.  
 
9.Noting that noise would be the biggest environmental problem for the new airport, the Chairman asked whether there would be proper channels for the affected public to lodge complaints. EM, AA said that the Airport Authority (AA) had been and would be working closely with the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) to monitor and manage the noise level. A telephone hotline manned by AA and CAD had been set up to receive public complaints. Moreover, the Airport Guide contained information on how to make complaints about noise. CDD, AA supplemented that the findings of the new Airport Master Plan EIA Study had indicated that, in terms of Hong Kong's existing guidelines on planning and environmental standards, the operation of the new airport should not create major noise nuisance since only a very small number of sensitive receivers were within 25 NEF contour.  
 
10.Noting that the new design year 25NEF contour would encroach upon Tai Lam Chung, a Member asked whether there would be a lot of noise sensitive receivers (NSRs) in Tai Lam Chung and whether it was possible to reduce the noise impacts to these NSRs. CDD, AA explained that there was no noise problem at Tai Lam Chung at present. However, the noise modelling results had identified Tai Lam Chung as a potential area likely to be affected by the flight tracks after 2005. He said that with the latest known technologies, it would not be possible to reduce the noise level at Tai Lam Chung. PEPO(AA), EPD said that there would only be a few NSRs in Tai Lam Chung and none of them were residential premises, such as the Tai Lam Correctional Institute and the Seamen's Training School. The Chairman said that AA should produce a comprehensive plan to identify all NSRs in Tai Lam Chung. A Member said that although no residential blocks in Tai Lam Chung were to be affected, the potential noise impact to Tai Lam Chung should not be neglected. Noting that AA would update the EIA again in five years' time, he requested AA to closely monitor the situation at Tai Lam Chung in the interim and report the situation by that time.












AA
 
11.A Member asked what types of noise insulation measures the AA would provide to the Sha Lo Wan villagers so as to reduce the noise level at their houses. CDD, AA said that the installation of double-glazed windows and air-conditioners would suffice. To give villagers the maximum flexibility, AA would pay villagers a lump sum cash payment rather than arranging for the actual installation of such measures for them. Villagers who accepted the cash payment would be required to sign a receipt to acknowledge that they would be responsible for installing the required noise mitigation measures and undertake not to make further claims against the government or the AA on the grounds of noise nuisance caused by the new airport. A Member asked and CDD, AA replied that villagers who opted for clearance would be offered normal ex-gratia allowance and, subject to normal eligibility criteria, rehousing to public housing.  
 
12.Noting that the existing aviation fuel receiving facilities (AFRF) at Sha Chau were intended to be a temporary facility, a Member asked whether a permanent site for AFRF had been identified and, if so, when the existing facilities could be decommissioned. CDD, AA said that although AA had examined a number of sites, they were not yet ready to recommend a replacement site because none of them were free from problems. He said that it would not be sensible to relocate the AFRF unless a better site was identified. Since it might take some more time to identify such a suitable site, he said that the AFRF would likely have to remain in Sha Chau longer than originally intended.  
 
13.Since the temporary AFRF at Sha Chau would have a longer operating lifespan, a Member asked whether additional environmental mitigation measures would be needed so as to safeguard the surrounding environment. CDD, AA said that the operator had been and would be reminded regularly and monitored closely to ensure that the facilities were operating in an environmentally acceptable manner. Thus far, no adverse environmental impact had been spotted. As "seeing is believing", he invited the Chairman and Members to visit Sha Chau to look at the operation there. The Chairman proposed that the visit be arranged when AA was ready to consult this Council on the alternative sites for relocating the facility.






AA
 
14.In response to a Member's query, CDD, AA assured Members that AA would continue to fund the recurrent costs in planning and managing the Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park for the whole operational life-time of the temporary AFRF at Sha Chau. He said that AA had already set aside $5 million within 1998/99 for this purpose.  
 
15.A Member said that he was concerned about the safety of the Chinese White Dolphins after the operation of the new airport as he had seen reports about these dolphins being hit by hi-speed boats outside Chek Lap Kok. He said that the original New Airport Master Plan EIA had mentioned very little about the impact of the new airport to the Chinese White Dolphins. Since the marine traffic plans associated with the new airport had now been known, he urged AA to step up the monitoring work on the impact to the Chinese White Dolphins.  
 
16.The Chairman asked whether the operator of the ferry service between Tuen Mun and Chek Lap Kok would be required to comply with environmental requirements. CDD, AA said that he would seek clarification on this with the Transport Department (TD), which is the licensing authority. He said that he would provide the answer to the Secretariat after the meeting.
[Post-meeting Note : CDD. AA's reply is at Annex.]


AA
 
17.In response to a Member's query, CDD, AA said that the proposed mangrove planting programme in Tai O would start once the outstanding engineering and land problems were satisfactorily resolved by the Government. Also, he confirmed that AA would fund almost half (40%) of the 1991 estimated project cost. AD(Cons), AFD supplemented that AFD was discussing with TDD the feasibility of dovetailing the mangrove planting programme with TDD's sheltered boat anchorage project there.  
 
18.Noting that it was more and more common for major corporations to publish annual yearbook on their environmental performance, the Chairman asked whether AA would also follow suit. CDD, AA said that AA contemplated to publish a statement on their environmental objectives one year after the opening of the new airport. A Member said that since there were other key players in the overall operation of the airport and they also contributed to making the airport environmentally friendly, AA should co-ordinate with them to produce a consolidated environmental report. DS(E), PELB said that he would convey Members' request to NAPCO for consideration.






PELB
 
19.A Member said that the Airport Railway seemed to have attracted a lot of complaints from residents in Shamshuipo and Mei Foo Suen Tsuen and asked whether actions had been taken by MTRC to tackle the problem. PEPO(AA), EPD said that EPD had been discussing the problem with MTRC and the latter would consider bringing forward the implementation of various noise mitigation measures which were originally intended to be introduced at a much later stage. A Member requested and the Chairman agreed to invite MTRC to prepare a report to the EIA Subcommittee on the compliance of the Airport Railway with various EIA recommendations.  
 
20.The Chairman thanked CDD, AA and EM, AA for updating Members on the EIA. He said that he looked forward to receiving another EIA update in five year's time.  
 
Agenda Item 5: Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3) Consultation Document
(ACE Paper 29/98)
 
 
21.The Chairman welcomed DC(P&TS), TD, CE(TTP), TD, Consultant, WSA, Consultant, ERM and Ag. PEPO(AP), EPD to the meeting. DC(P&TS), TD briefed Members on the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3).  
 
22.A Member commented that while TD's presentation had placed great emphasis on environmental consideration, not much was mentioned about this in the Consultation Document. He also said that he was surprised that the CTS-3 had not made any reference to SUSDEV 21 study, which was conducted by the same consultant firm. Moreover he said that the CTS-3 should look into the possibility of "pedestrianization", i.e. the development of road-level public transport system which was environmentally friendly, such as expansion of our tram system.  
 
23.DC(P&TS), TD responded that CTS-3 would include a strategic environmental assessment. On the interface of CTS-3 with SUSDEV 21, he said that SUSDEV 21 would establish a Sustainable Development System, and it would be possible to test the CTS-3 recommendations against that System to assess how sustainable the proposals were. He said that while CTS-3 would consider the issue of "pedestrianization" from a strategic level, actual planning work had to be examined in district traffic studies. The existing tramway was an environmentally-friendly mode of transport but financial viability considerations would be critical in proposing any upgrading. CTS-3 would further consider the role of the tramway.  
 
24.In response to the Chairman's query, DC(P&TS), TD said that if the LPG taxi trial scheme had proven to be successful, TD would consider extending the scheme to the whole taxi fleet and encourage LPG vehicles in general. Ag. PEPO(AP), EPD said that if the whole diesel taxi fleet was replaced by LPG taxis, the amount of respirable suspended particulates (RSP) could be reduced by about 30%.  
 
25.A Member was concerned that government's recent decision to reduce the diesel duty as a means to easing the hardship of business operators would slow down the whole process for switching from diesel to LPG. He said that it had always been the view of the Hong Kong Motor Traders Association that all diesel vans should be banned.  
 
26.A Member asked whether TD had maintained pollution inventory which would enable them to assess in the planning stage the environmental impact of different route alignments and select the one which would have the least environmental impact. Consultant, ERM said that pollution inventory was part of the strategic environmental assessment in the CTS-3.  
 
27.A Member asked whether TD would consider replacing public light buses (PLB) by franchised buses. DC(P&TS), TD said that, like other modes of public transport, PLBs had its role to play.  
 
28.A Member said that he agreed that priority should be given to the development of railways, which were the most efficient mass carriers and were environmentally more friendly. It also did not require too much land. He said that the growth and use of private cars should be further discouraged so as to further reduce Hong Kong's greenhouse gas emission level.  
 
29.In response to a Member's query, Ag. D of Plan said that Planning Department (Plan D) was conducting a study on two cross-link proposals put forward by the Mainland side, namely the Shenzhen Western Corridor and Lingdingyang Bridge. He said that upon the completion of the study, the government could take a view on these two projects.  
 
30.In response to the Chairman's query, Ag. D of Plan said that Plan D was reviewing the Port Development Strategy, which included a review of the proposed port development at Tuen Mun West and Lantau Port. Regarding the latter, he said that various engineering feasibility studies had already been conducted in the past to demonstrate that the project was technically feasible. However, since the rate of port cargo growth had slowed down in the past few years, Plan D would need to review the need of the project and its implementation timetable, taking into account the projected demand for port facilities in the coming years.  
 
31.A Member asked whether the Deep Bay Link would go ahead. Ag. D of Plan said that government had yet to make a decision on the Deep Bay Link, which would link the Deep Bay Coast with the Yuen Long Highways. He said that the Highways Department was however investigating Route 10, which would link Yuen Long Highways with Lantau.  
 
32.A Member said that since railway was the most preferred mode of public transport, government should consider planning and constructing a railway at an early stage rather than wait until such a stage when the population had grown to such an extent as to make the railway commercially viable from day one. She remarked that railways should not be required to pass any profitability test. She also said that it would be desirable if the terminus of the cross-boundary railway could be on Hong Kong Island. On freight transport, she said that while it was good to promote wider use of rail for cross-boundary container freight movements, many small and medium sized enterprises in the Mainland would still have to rely upon road transport since they did not have direct and convenient access to the railway stations.  
 
33.DC(P&TS), TD said that government had been trying hard to identify as many potential developments along the railway alignment as possible so as to enhance the commercial viability of a railway project at an earlier stage. He said that the Second Railway Development Study conducted by the Highways Department would look into a second railway link between Hong Kong and Mainland. He also informed Members that the CTS-3 would examine the possibility of a fourth harbour crossing, which would include a railway.  
 
34.In response to a Member's query, DC(P&TS), TD said that TD planned to extend the Area Traffic Control System, which was already operating on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Tsuen Wan, to Shatin, Taipo, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui.  
 
35.A Member asked whether Container Terminals (CT)12 and 13 would be built. He also asked whether Route 10 would still be needed if CT12 and 13 were not to go ahead. Ag. D of Plan said that no decision had yet been made on the timing of constructing container terminals beyond CT9. He said that given the current port cargo growth rate, Hong Kong would not need CT10 before 2005. It was therefore not necessary for government to make a firm decision about the total number of container terminals to be built at this early stage. Ag. D of Plan further said that since Route 10 would provide another link between Lantau and other parts of Hong Kong, it would still be needed even if the container terminal projects were not to go ahead.  
 
36.A Member asked whether it was still Mainland's requirement that empty containers had to be returned to Hong Kong immediately after the goods were unloaded in Mainland, and, if so, whether it was possible for Hong Kong government to liaise with the Mainland authorities with a view to waiving this requirement. Ag. D of Plan said that empty containers which were not returned to Hong Kong would be liable to customs duty. ESB would explore with the Mainland side the possibility of storing empty containers in the Mainland under the Port Back-up Facilities and Land Requirement Study. He said that this approach would also bring improvements to our N.T. environment.  
 
37.A Member asked whether government would encourage car owners in N.T. to make wider use of trains by building low-cost carparking facilities next to railway stations so that they could park their cars there and take the trains. DC(P&TS), TD said that TD was running a "park-and-ride" trial scheme in Sheung Shui. The trial scheme would continue until the end of this year and TD would then review its effectiveness. He said that a lot of park-and-ride facilities would be provided along the West Rail, particularly at the Kam Tin Station.  
 
38.The Chairman was of the view that government should take a step further to encourage car owners in N.T. to take public transport to the railway stations. He said that if government permitted the building of multi-storeyed rather than three-storeyed small houses, it would then become commercially viable for transport operators to provide shuttle bus service to villagers between villages and railway stations. This would provide a strong incentive for car owners to give up driving.  
 
39.The Chairman asked and DC(P&TS), TD said that although the consultation period for the CTS-3 would expire on 30 June 1998, Members' views were still welcome after the deadline. He said that TD had issued the Consultation Document to various professional bodies and twelve sets of comments have so far been received. Noting that the CTS-3 study was scheduled for completion in April 1999, the Chairman requested TD to brief Members on the outcome of the study after the final report was published.




TD
 
40.A Member took the opportunity to inform Members that certain manufacturers in Europe had started the production of "hybrid" cars, which were equipped with an electric engine and a fuel engine. To encourage the introduction of hybrid cars in Hong Kong, he said that government should exempt these cars from import tax during the initial stage. He said that he would bring a catalogue about the car to the next ACE meeting for Members' reference.



That Member
 
Agenda Item 6 : Any Other Business  
 
Visit to the Hong Kong Observatory  
 
41.The Chairman informed Members that a visit to the Hong Kong Observatory was scheduled for 28 July 1998.  
 
Air Pollution Index  
 
42.Regarding ACE Paper 27/98 on Air Pollution Index (API) which was circulated to Members for information before the meeting, a Member said that he was concerned about the way the public was advised on the possible health effects of different ranges of API readings. He commented that the existing API readings, which was related to the Air Quality Objectives, had underestimated the health effects on individuals for API readings below 50. He proposed that instead of adopting the US standard for APIs, the state-of-art modelling from European countries should be used to work out a more comprehensible index.  
 
43.DEP said that Hong Kong had been following a similar system used widely in other cities in reporting APIs. He said that since the APIs were targeted for general public, they had to be simple in presentation. Moreover, since the main purpose was to highlight the health effect of the ambient air quality to an individual on a daily basis, the long-term health effect had not been emphasised. He said that he was aware of the various built-in weaknesses of the existing API reporting system but emphasised that EPD had tried their best to work out an index to reflect, in layman terms, the co-relation between air quality and health effect of individuals.  
 
44.The Chairman said that if the green groups and the press could help explain to the public how to interpret APIs, there would be less confusion and misunderstanding among the public on API readings. A Member said that even green groups had difficulties in interpreting API readings. AD of H said that some doctors also found it difficult to interpret the API readings.  
 
45.To help Members gain a deeper understanding about the existing API, the Chairman proposed that a seminar on API be organised by EPD. DEP said EPD would be pleased to arrange such a seminar.
[Post-meeting Note : The seminar on API is scheduled for 12 August 1998.]
 
 
Deep Bay Water Quality  
 
46.A Member said that the Interim Report on River and Marine Water Quality in Hong Kong in 1997 had revealed that the water quality in Deep Bay had continued to deteriorate. She said she had heard that the Mainland side intended to construct a channel between Mirs Bay and Deep Bay to divert water from Mirs Bay to Deep Bay so as to create a flushing effect. She was concerned that the construction of the project would bring adverse environmental impact to Deep Bay. She asked when the Deep Bay Water Quality Regional Control Strategy Report would be ready. DEP said that the final report of the Deep Bay Water Quality Regional Control Strategy Study was being finalised. However, EPD would need to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Report with the Mainland side before a joint strategy could be formulated. ACE would be briefed in due course.  
 
Paper on Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee  
 
47.The Chairman asked and AS(E)4, PELB said that the paper was being prepared by the Planning Department and would likely be available in two to three months' time.  
 
Tentative Schedule of Work in 1998  
 
48.Members noted the Tentative Schedule tabled.  
 
Agenda Item 7 : Date of Next Meeting
 
49.The next meeting was scheduled for 27 July 1998.  




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

Annex

 

Airport Authority's Reply on 3 July 1998
regarding Tuen Mun - Chek Lap Kok Ferry Environmental Requirements

At the ACE meeting on 29 June, the Chairman raised a question regarding the above. The situation is as follows :

 

(a) the AA's licence is only with Transport Department for use of part of the "new airport lot" including the temporary construction pier under the terms of AA's Land Grant. AA have no direct control or jurisdiction over the actual operator, in particular his vessels which operate outside AA's lot. (This situation is somewhat akin to the franchised buses which AA also have little direct control over and none as concerns their operations beyond the airport boundary.)
 
(b) according to AA's understanding, TD's licence with the operator specifies basically that operations must be in accord with all the Laws of Hong Kong, i.e. AA believe there are no specific additional requirements added for instance by EPD or MD.
 
(c) AA have clauses in the licence to ensure that the landside operations are kept clean and free from rodent infestation and the like and have ensured that the septic tank serving the passenger waiting area is regularly serviced and maintained.
 
(d) AA's licence covers activity for only three years on the assumption that facilities and arrangements at their end are of a temporary nature, and will then be replaced by a permanent ferry pier development.
 
(e) The ferry route between Tuen Mun and NE CLK goes several kilometers to the east of the dolphin sanctuary boundary, and so hopefully there would be no impact there.


 

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