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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 69th Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 20 December 1999 at 2:30 p.m.

Present:
Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, GBS, JP (Chairman)
Mr. CHAN Kwok-wai, JP
Miss Ann CHIANG
Professor Peter HILLS
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Professor LAM Kin-che
Mr. Edwin LAU
Mr. Joseph LAU Man-wai, JP
The Hon. Dr. LEONG Che-hung
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming
Dr. NG Cho-nam
Mr. Otto L. T. POON
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH
Ms Iris TAM
Miss Alex YAU
Mr. Plato YIP
Mrs. Philomena LEUNG (Secretary)


Absent with Apologies:

Mr. Clement CHEN
Mr. Barrie COOK
Mr. Paul C. H. FAN
Professor Anthony HEDLEY, JP
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP
Mr. TAN Teng Huat


In Attendance:

 

Mr. Gordon SIU Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands (SPEL)
Mr. Kim SALKELD Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands (Environment) (DS(E), PELB)
Mr. Rob LAW Director of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Mr. S P LAU Assistant Director (Conservation), Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD)
Mr. Raymond CHIU Assistant Director (Technical Services), Planning Department (Plan D) (AD(TS)/Plan D)
Dr. Constance CHAN Assistant Director (Health Adm & Planning), Department of Health
Ms. Polly LEUNG Principal Information Officer, Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
Mr. Maurice LOO Assistant Secretary (Environment) 4, PELB
Miss Cora SO Executive Officer (Environment), PELB
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 1:
 
The Hon. Christine LOH Citizens Party
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 4:
 
Mr. S V Chai Deputy Project Manager (Major Works), Highways Department (Hy D) (DPM(MW)/Hy D)
Mr. W C Chan Chief Engineer (Major Works), Hy D (CE (MW)/Hy D)
Mrs. Joanna Kwok Chief Engineer (Strategic Infrastructure), Transport Department (CE(SI)/TD)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 5:
 
Mr. C K Li Chief Town Planner (Sub-regional Planning), Plan D (CTP(SP)/Plan D)
Mr. David Cheung Deputy Project Manager (NT North Development), Territory Development Department (TDD) (DPM(NTN)/TDD)
Mr. Clement Fok Senior Engineer (NT North Development), TDD (SE(NTN)/TDD)
Mr. Simon Hui Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit), EPD (PEPO(AA)/EPD)
Mr. Lawrence Ngo Senior Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit)2, EPD (SEPO(AA)/EPD)
Mr. K W Cheung Senior Ecological Assessment Officer, AFD (SEAO/AFD)
Mr. Allan Poon Consultant, Maunsell Consultants Asia Ltd (Cons/MCAL)
Ms. Susana Bezy Consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) (Cons1/ERM)
Mr. Paul Leader Consultant, ERM (Cons2/ERM)
Ms. Suzanne Cheung Consultant, ERM (Cons3/ERM)
Mr. John Patient Consultant, MVA (Cons/MVA)
Mr. Mark Harrison Consultant, MHL (Cons/MHL)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 6:
 
Mr. W K Tam Assistant Director of Civil Engineering (Special Duties) (AD, CED)
Mr. W K Ko Chief Engineer (Special Duties), CED (CE(SD), CED)
Mr. A R Arul Kumarasan Consultant, Scott Wilson (Cons, SW)
Mr. Terence Tsang Acting Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit), EPD (Atg. PEPO(AA), EPD)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 7:
 
Mr. Howard Chan Principal Assistant Secretary (Environment)1, PELB (PAS(E)1/PELB)
Mr. Ha Kong Acting Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Motor Vehicle Emissions), EPD (Atg. PEPO(MV)/EPD)
Mr. Derek Gould Assistant Commissioner, Transport Department (AC/TD)
Mr. C K Wong Manager (Automobile Industry Training Centre), Vocational Training Council (Mgr/VTC)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 8:
 
Mr. Howard Chan PAS(E)1/PELB
Mr. Ha Kong Atg. PEPO(MV)/EPD

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The Chairman welcomed Mr. Raymond Chiu, who was standing in for Mr. Bosco Fung, to the meeting. Action
Agenda Item 1 : Discussion on Pedestrianisation in Hong Kong  
2. The Chairman welcomed the Hon. Christine Loh to the meeting and invited her to present the report entitled "A Walk on the Wild Side: Better Planning for Pedestrians in Hong Kong" produced by the Citizens Party. With the reorganisation on provision of municipal services and the restructuring of the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB), Miss Loh believed that it was the appropriate time to review Government policy on pedestrianisation in Hong Kong. She said that Citizens Party proposed the setting up of a centralized authority, such as a City Task Force, to co-ordinate the responsibilities of various bureaux/departments in planning for pedestrianisation. She urged the Administration to take into account the need of pedestrians during the initial planning stages of urban renewal and other development projects.  
3. The Chairman concurred with Miss Loh's views and said that it was crucial that the Administration take into account the need of the pedestrians in urban planning. He invited DS(E)/PELB to brief Members on how pedestrianisation issues would be taken forward after the restructuring of PELB.  
4. DS(E)/PELB said that the planning aspect of pedestrianisation schemes would remain with the renamed Planning and Lands Bureau while implementation would be carried out by Transport Department (TD) and Home Affairs Department (HAD). He added that TD was undertaking a consultancy study on pedestrianisation proposals and HAD would act as the channel between the Administration and the community in soliciting the feedback of the community on specific proposals. He said that the new Environment and Food Bureau would also provide contributions as appropriate.  
5. Miss Loh said that her vision was to have different types of pedestrian schemes for different areas, e.g. underground pedestrianisation schemes, ground-level pedestrianisation schemes, elevated walkways etc. She urged the Planning Department to take a proactive approach in looking for new opportunities of pedestrianisation schemes. She suggested that the Administration should raise public awareness on pedestrianisation in order to generate support for such schemes.  
6. AD(TS)/Plan D said that a study on planning for pedestrians would soon be commissioned by the Planning Department. He added that the study would cover various aspects such as integrating land-use, traffic and environmental protection issues and the suggestions detailed in the Citizens Party's report would be carefully considered.  
7. DS(E)/PELB noted that pedestrianisation schemes would involve many associated issues such as the re-arrangement of public transport. He said that the Administration would need to count on the support of various parties in the planning process.  
8. A Member said that better planning for pedestrians was a crucial element in making a city livable and compared with other major cities, Hong Kong had been slow in setting specific targets for pedestrianisation. He was concerned that it would be difficult to make rapid progress in Hong Kong given the fragmentation of stakeholders and interest groups and with different departments dealing with the various aspects of pedestrianisation schemes. He urged the Administration to keep up the momentum in convincing the public about the merits of pedestrianisation schemes.  
9. In response to DS(E)/PELB's concern on public involvement, Miss Loh shared her experience in dealing with various interest groups in the Soho area and observed a lack of communication amongst the concerned stakeholders. She suggested that the Administration organise a forum for discussion on individual schemes and to facilitate interested parties in coming to a consensus on the development of such schemes.  
10. A Member echoed the views of Miss Loh and added that he was already organising similar forums to enable urban planning students to gain a better sense of balancing different community interests. Another Member said that practicing planners were already incorporating ideas of pedestrianisation into their projects on urban redevelopment. However, they had often encountered problems in the implementation process since the identified land was allocated for other purposes. She hoped that Secretary for Planning and Lands could take a coordinating role in resolving these issues.  
11. A Member also noted that there was a lack of a centralized authority to look after tree planting in Hong Kong. He pointed out that tree-planting plans devised by planners were sometimes not practical since they usually had no expertise in this area.  
12. A Member said that the Administration should learn from successful pedestrianisation schemes in the past, like the covered walkway between Jardine House and Sheung Wan district. He noted that the case illustrated the readiness of the public to walk but the Administration would need to provide the infrastructure to facilitate pedestrian walking.  
13. The Chairman thanked Miss Loh for taking the time to discuss this topic and he hoped that in future a single bureau/department could take the lead in the overall planning for pedestrianisation.  
Agenda Item 2 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 67th and 68th Meetings held on 15 October and 29 November 1999 respectively  
14. The minutes of the 67th meeting were confirmed subject to a Member's amendments.  
15. Regarding ERM's comments that the term "chat room" in paragraph 24 of the minutes of the 68th meeting should read as "library of previous test", the Chairman clarified that he did propose the setting up of a "chat room" to allow users to register their comments instead of a "library of previous test". He asked the Secretariat to convey the message to the consultant and to further revise the sentence. Other than that, the minutes of the 68th meeting were confirmed subject to a Member's amendments. Secretariat
Agenda Item 3 : Matters Arising  
Para. 3 : Visit to the Environmental Protection Bureau of Guangdong  
16. Members noted that a report of the visit was tabled.  
Para. 4 : Shotcreted Slopes  
17. The Chairman said that the visit was cancelled due to lack of interest from Members.  
Para. 5 : Target dates for HK's major rivers and marine waters to meet their Water Quality Objectives  
18. The Chairman said that a paper was tabled for Members' information and Members were welcomed to raise their comments at the next meeting.  
Para. 6 : Proposals for alternative noise mitigation measures  
19. The Chairman said that EPD had commissioned a review on this issue and would be invited to discuss this in detail when the report of the review was available. EPD
Para. 11: Special meeting on the Third Comprehensive Transport Strategy  
20. Members noted that the request for the meeting was conveyed to the Transport Bureau and the Secretariat was awaiting a reply. TB
Para. 26 : Briefing on sustainability indicators and demonstration of CASET  
21. The Chairman said that a date was being identified for the briefing. Plan D
Para. 36 : Indoor Air Quality Study  
22. In response to the Chairman's query, DEP said that all contracts which EPD had entered into with consultants had clear provisions which stipulated that consultants were not allowed to enter into other contracts or engage in any activity which would lead to conflict of interest. The process of appointing consultants was overseen by the Engineering and Associated Consultant Selection Board chaired by the Director of Civil Engineering.  
News reports about ACE  
23. The Chairman noted that there were recent news reports which cited the position of ACE on particular EIA reports. The Chairman urged Members to be careful about giving wrong impressions to the media on the consensual view of the Council when they expressed their own personal opinions on specific issues.  
Agenda Item 4 : Report of the 50th EIA Subcommittee Meeting
(ACE Paper 51/99)
 
Route 10 - North Lantau to Yuen Long Highways (Southern Section)  
24. A Member briefed Members on the Subcommittee's views and recommendations on the EIA report of "Route 10". The Chairman then welcomed DPM(MW)/Hy D, MCE(MW)/Hy D and CE(SI)/TD to the meeting.  
25. A Member asked whether there was a master plan for the whole development of Lantau. Another Member recalled that at the last EIA Subcommittee meeting he did request the Administration to provide a comprehensive list of all current studies on Lantau so that the Council could have a full picture. That another Member added that there was a feeling amongst Members that one project on Lantau was at present being justified on the basis of another planned project.  
26. A Member said that the proposed scale of Route 10 could only be justified if it was linked to Hong Kong Island because Lantau alone needed not be served by such a big road. In this regard, the transport master plan for the whole territory should also be presented.  
27. In response to Members' query, DPM(MW)/Hy D said that the southern section of Route 10 would be connected via Chok Ko Wan Link Road to the Yam O Interchange which was provided to connect Route 10 with the existing North Lantau Highway. Route 10 would therefore provide an alternative access to Lantau and the New Airport. With the investigation and preliminary design assignment still on-going and a full EIA yet to be carried out, he was unable to give Members a full picture of the environmental impacts of the northern section of Route 10. However, given that the southern section would include Tsing Lung Bridge which would take some five years to build, it is necessary to commence the design of the section as early as possible. As such, it was considered appropriate to divide the EIA for the preliminary design of the project into two phases, one for the northern section and the other for the southern section. He assured Members that the EIA report for the northern section would take into account the cumulative environmental impact of the southern section, and construction works would not commence until both EIA reports were endorsed by the Council.  
28. The Chairman supported the provision of the bridge because of the necessity of providing an alternative road access from Hong Kong to Lantau. However, Route 10 would appear to terminate at a toll plaza instead of link to the Yam O Interchange under the present plan. DPM(MW)/Hy D clarified that the whole of Route 10, from Yuen Long Highway to North Lantau including its connection to Yam O Interchange, would be completed by 2007.  
29. In response to a Member's comments about a direct link between Route 10 and the North Lantau Expressway, DPM(MW)/Hy D explained that there were serious engineering problems in providing a connection for vehicles to travel safely at 100km/hr. The proposed link road would need to have a sufficiently large turning radius and could not avoid having to cross the North Lantau Expressway as well as the Airport Railway, thus disrupting traffic on both the Highway and the Railway.  
30. A Member said that she had reservations on the need for a dual 3-lane configuration for Route 10. She noted that all the justifications provided by the proponent to support the project were based on studies currently under review. DPM(MW)/Hy D said that Route 10, apart from providing an alternative access to the Airport, also served the developments in north Lantau in addition to the existing and proposed developments in North West New Territories (NWNT), and traffic generated from the proposed new boundary crossing. A major project like Route 10 took many years from planning, design construction to completion. It would therefore be essential to start the planning and designing work as early as possible.  
31. A Member shared that the last spoken Member's concern that Route 10 itself would eventually be used as justifications for other future development projects on Lantau and would preempt the need for developing other modes of transport. He said that the Administration should consider initiating traffic management measures to reduce the need for building more roads.  
32. A Member shared Members' concern and urged the project proponent to provide more basic information, such as related development proposals and traffic demand figures, to convince Members about the need of the project.  
33. In addition to providing an alternative road link to Lantau, CE(SI)/TD of Transport Department said that Route 10 would also connect with the proposed Deep Bay Link to relieve cross-boundary traffic. She added that Route 10 would also cater for substantial growth in both the NWNT and north Lantau areas, the population of which would increase from 0.8 million in 1996 to 1.4 million by 2011 and 1.6 million by 2016, and from 20,000 in 1999 to 360,000 by 2016 respectively.  
34. Two Members pointed out that the population growth of NWNT and north Lantau should be supported by a railway system which was more environmentally-friendly. A third Member commented that a single railway system would not be adequate to serve all the population generated in the region and a highway system would still be necessary. In response to the Chairman's comments, DS(E)/PELB clarified that Route 10 would not link up directly with south Lantau, and a railway system will link up the Yam O Interchange with the Disney Theme Park development.  
35. A Member asked whether Route 10 would have surplus capacity or potential to expand if the Government reverted back to its original proposal of building container terminals in the South East of Lantau and having a separate road link to Hong Kong Island. DPM(MW)/Hy D said that having a separate road connection between Lantau and Hong Kong Island may divert traffic to other road links and it would be necessary to conduct further investigations to ascertain the traffic impact. CE(SI)/TD supplemented that sensitivity tests with different planning scenarios have been conducted and all the results indicated that a dual 3-lane configuration was needed for Route 10.  
36. A Member said that it would be useful to make reference to the sensitivity tests results and suggested that such information should be presented together with the EIA report in future submissions. The Chairman requested the proponent to provide the tests data to facilitate the Council in arriving at a recommendation.  
37. DPM(MW)/Hy D said that the full justifications of the project had been presented to and endorsed by the Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) of LegCo in November and he would give Members a copy of the PWSC paper for reference. He noted that LegCo Members had pressed the Administration to implement the Route 10 project as soon as possible in the course of the discussion at the PWSC meeting. The Chairman suggested that the proponent should present to Members the full justifications of the project as presented to LegCo Members. [Copies of the PWSC paper were circulated for Members' reference.]  
38. The Chairman said that the Council would need time to digest the data requested and it would be desirable to have another meeting to discuss the project and to come up with a recommendation. DEP pointed out that the delay might exceed the 60-day statutory period for providing comments on EIA reports. The Chairman said that the proponent could attend the next EIA Subcommittee meeting and if Subcommittee Members were satisfied, other Members could endorse the EIA report by circulation.  
39. DEP reminded Members that under the EIA Ordinance, the Council's role was to consider the technical aspects of an EIA report and that the Council could not reject the report because it was not satisfied with the need for the project. The Chairman said that he understood the point but Members would feel uncomfortable in endorsing an EIA report before they were convinced about the need for the project.  
40. A Member said that EPD could extend the 60-day period if they required additional information from the project proponent. DEP replied that he would need to have a valid reason for asking for additional information under the EIA Ordinance. As such, he would need to seek legal advice on whether he was empowered to extend the statutory period given the present circumstances.  
41. Given that the proponent had already secured funding endorsement from LegCo, a Member questioned the urgency for seeking the Council's endorsement of the EIA report. DPM(MW)/Hy D said that they were working under a tight schedule and they intended to gazette the southern section of Route 10 under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance by next month. He would like to seek the endorsement of the Council before initiating the gazettal procedures when members of the public would be allowed to comment on the project.  
42. Upon clarification, DEP confirmed that the statutory period for considering the EIA report would end on 29 January 2000. The Chairman suggested that the proponent provide Members with additional information and address Members' concern at the next EIA Subcommittee meeting scheduled for 3 January 2000. If Subcommittee Members were satisfied, other Members could endorse the EIA report by circulation. Otherwise, the next Council meeting could be advanced to say 24 January 2000 to further discuss the report. Hy D
43. A Member suggested that the proponent should postpone the gazettal procedures of the project until the Council had a definitive decision on the EIA report. Another Member said that it was appropriate to adhere to the practice of only initiating gazettal procedures after the endorsement of the Council.  
44. In response to a Member's query, DPM(MW)/Hy D confirmed that the Finance Committee of LegCo had already given funding approval for the detailed design of the project. Since the funding application was only related to the design of the project, the environmental implications of just doing the designs were considered to be insignificant. DEP clarified that the proponent would still be required to seek funding approval from the Finance Committee for the construction works.  
45. A Member was concerned that public money would be wasted on the detailed design of the project if the Council did not endorse the EIA report and the project was shelved. As such, it would be prudent to have the EIA report endorsed before seeking LegCo's funding approval for the detailed design of the project. Another Member shared that Member's concern that the environmental implication paragraphs of the PWSC submissions were misleading. A third Member said that he would bring this issue to the attention of LegCo members.  
46. DEP said that there were administrative guidelines which stipulated the need for Government departments to consult the Council on projects before submitting the proposal to LegCo and undergoing the relevant gazettal procedures unless there were strong reasons for not doing so.  
47. A Member suggested that the proponent provide Members with a copy of the minutes of the concerned PWSC meeting before the next EIA Subcommittee meeting since some of Members' questions were already raised at that meeting.  
Planning and Development Study on North West New Territories  
48. A Member briefed Members on the EIA Subcommittee's comments on the environmental assessment report of the Planning and Development Study on North West New Territories. The Chairman proposed and Members agreed to endorse the comments as set out in the Report of the EIA Subcommittee.  
Agenda Item 5 : Planning and Development Study on North East New Territories
(ACE-EIA Paper 32/99)
 
49. The Chairman welcomed CTP(SP)/Plan D et al to the meeting. CTP(SP)/Plan D briefed Members on the background of the Study and played a video featuring the highlights of the Study recommendations. Cons1/ERM then gave a short presentation on the environmental features of the Study.  
50. The Chairman said that KCRC would arrange a visit for Members to have a look at the proposed public transport interchange of some of the West Rail stations, and it would be useful if the consultants of this Study could go along and answer the questions Members might ask.  
51. The Chairman said that he had received a letter from the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) regarding the ecological importance of Long Valley (LV). He asked how these natural habitats could be protected from the developments proposed in the Study.  
52. To minimise the effects of the proposed developments on natural habitats in the region, CTP(SP)/Plan D said that the Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) were designed in a way to avoid the LV proper while take advantage of the proposed KCRC Spur-Line linking Sheung Shui Valley and Lok Ma Chau so that about 100,000 population could make use of the rail-based transportation.  
53. Cons1/ERM said that the Study had already undertaken alternative environmental assessments on re-locating the Fanling Bypass outside the LV area. Cons2/ERM said that they agreed with the HKBWS's view that LV was an important and unique natural habitat which need to be conserved. As such, the Study had avoided development in the LV area. Regarding possible ecological impacts in other SGAs and the loss of natural habitats in Fanling North, the Study proposed mitigation measures through enhanced management of areas elsewhere, including LV.  
54. In response to the Chairman's query, Cons2/ERM said that LV would remain a good habitat for wildlife during the whole development process. In the longer term, the area would be enhanced to increase its attractiveness to important species as developments in other areas occurred.  
55. In response to a Member's query, CTP(SP)/Plan D confirmed that Option 4 of the Fanling Bypass recommended locating the Bypass away from LV. CTP(SP)/Plan D supplemented that they had not yet decided on which option to adopt because other factors like costs and engineering feasibility would also need to be taken into consideration. Since Option 4 would cause the least environmental impact on LV, that Member recommended adopting this Option.  
56. In response to the Chairman's query, Cons/MCAL clarified that the estimated construction cost for Option 4 was $600 million and was the least expensive amongst all options. However, the land cost and possible objection from local residents had not yet been taken into account in the estimate.  
57. A Member declared her interest because she was involved in some private sector projects in the area. She pointed out that although Option 4 of Fanling Bypass would cause the least environmental impact on LV, the major road junction would be closer to the new town and would cause disturbances to residents.  
58. Cons1/ERM said that the environmental impact assessments of Option 4 indicated that noise and air quality impact to the new town could be mitigated in accordance with the standards set out in the Technical Memorandum of the EIA Ordinance. However, it was not possible to mitigate the ecological impact on LV if other options were adopted. CTP(SP)/Plan D supplemented that the two roundabouts in the original plan would be combined into one under Option 4 so that impacts could be minimised.  
59. A Member was concerned that the junction would attract traffic to bypass the ring road by going through the new town onto a strategic road over to the north-eastern side of the territory. CTP(SP)/Plan D clarified that the junction would be located on the periphery of the proposed new town instead of in the middle of the town. Cons/MCAL supplemented that the ring road was designed for traffic between districts whereas the Bypass served to direct border-crossing traffic to Man Kam Road.  
60. A Member said that this Council had lengthy discussion on how to conserve LV when considering the EIA report on the Main Drainage Channel for Fanling, Sheung Shui and Hinterland. She noted that the efforts of the Council would be negated if a bypass was to affect LV. Another Member was concerned about the cumulative impacts of other existing projects on LV and he agreed that adopting Option 4 could avoid further impact.  
61. Noting that LV was of great ecological importance to Hong Kong, the Chairman asked whether there was any plan to protect the area. CTP(SP)/Plan D said that the area was at present zoned as "Agriculture" under the Outline Zoning Plan. He added that Plan D would further consider rezoning the area as a "Conservation Area" upon completion of a 12-month ecological survey currently being undertaken by the environmental consultants.  
62. In response to a Member's question about the extent of the Railway Reserve, CTP(SP)/Plan D said that the West Rail Phase 2 project was a long-term proposal which had not yet been approved. Further investigations would be required for ascertaining the land requirement of the project. For the time being, the land designated as Railway Reserve could be used for amenity purposes.  
63. A Member urged the Administration to encourage KCRC to explore more alternatives for railway alignments, especially for the East Rail Spur-Line project which would cut into a wetland and a breeding area for valuable species. DPM(NTN)/TDD remarked that railway had less flexibility as compared with road in terms of alignment but a Member's concern would be conveyed to Highways Department and KCRC. CTP(SP)/Plan D said that if there were better alternatives, Plan D would consider integrating them into their SGAs.  
64. In response to a Member's suggestion for the Administration to adopt a pro-active approach in conserving LV, CTP(SP)/Plan D said that it was difficult to actively protect LV apart from rezoning the area because most of the land was privately-owned and some was under active agriculture activities. SEAO/AFD said that the consultants were considering enhancing the management of LV to mitigate the ecological impacts of other developments in the region. Besides, AFD was conducting a wetland compensation study to address the territory-wide problem of wetland loss and LV was one of the target areas being studied.  
65. A Member pointed out that even under Option 4, the wetland loss would also need to be compensated and LV would be one of the prime sites for this purpose. DPM(NTN)/TDD said that they had to seek legal advice on whether resumption of land in LV for wetland compensation would fall within the definition of resumption of land for public purposes. The Chairman said that the ACE was of the view that resumption of land in LV for wetland compensation was a public purpose.  
66. In response to a Member's query, CTP(SP)/Plan D confirmed that no SGA for residential development would be within 1 km of the Sheung Shui Slaughter House.  
67. The Chairman thanked the presentation team and commended that the planning process was conducted in a transparent and open manner. Should Members have further comments, he encouraged them to write directly to Plan D before the consultation period ended on 15 January 2000.  
Any Other Business  
[As a Member would have to leave soon, he raised an issue at this juncture.]  
68. Noting that there were news reports citing Hong Kong dumping excessive fresh water into the sea brought from the Mainland, a Member expressed his great concern on the wastage incurred. The Chairman shared his concern and noted that the Mainland could save the cost in pumping the excessive water while retaining the excessive water for its use at the same time. Concurrently, Hong Kong could also save the cost of dumping the extra water.  
69. The Chairman said that the Director of Water Supplies had been invited to discuss this issue at the meeting in January 2000, and the Secretariat could relay Members' concern to him in advance.  
Agenda Item 6 : Sludge Treatment and Disposal Strategy Study
(ACE Paper 52/99)
 
70. The Chairman welcomed PEPO(WS)/EPD, SEPO(WS)/EPD and MD/ERM to the meeting. SEPO(WS)/EPD briefed Members on the Study findings and the proposed sludge strategy.  
71. The Chairman said that he had reservations on using sea-water for toilet flushing because this would generate sludge of high chloride content which would be more difficult to treat. Given that treated sewage would be discharged through a long outfall, he also queried the need for using high level of treatment for treating sewage. He also urged the Administration to explore the feasibility of re-using sludge for other purposes. A Member shared the view and noted that some countries were already using sludge to produce bricks for construction.  
72. PEPO(WS)/EPD clarified that toilet flushing with either sea-water or fresh water would produce sludge with high organic content which must be treated before discharging. While he agreed that it was possible to reuse sludge for other purposes, he said that the Study was aimed at identifying a more effective and sustainable strategy to dispose the increasing quantity of sludge produced. Regarding the recycling of sewage sludge as construction materials, he noted that such use would be limited given that sewage sludge was mainly organic in nature.  
73. A Member noted that the Executive Summary had included economic and land assessments of the various options but a technical assessment was not available. He remarked that there was at present no plant of similar scale in other countries for incinerating comparable quantity of organic sludge. As such, he was concerned about how the incineration process could be controlled and monitored.  
74. MD/ERM said that the chloride content in the sludge produced in Hong Kong was not excessive compared with other countries. He added that ferric chloride was widely used around the world as a conditioning agent for dewatering the sludge produced from the sewage treatment process. Therefore using sea-water for flushing would not constrain the options for treatment and disposal of sewage sludge because chloride would nonetheless appear in the sludge. As regards overseas experience, he said that a plant in the Netherlands was employing the same technology as proposed in the Study for incinerating sludge of a chloride content higher than that in Hong Kong. The dioxin emission from the plant in the Netherlands was well below the 0.1 nanogram per cubic meter standard in Hong Kong which was the most stringent in the world. According to the calculations in the Study, he estimated that less than 5,000 tonnes of sludge could be recycled through land application use in Hong Kong per annum due to limited demand. As such, the wider application of sludge recycling was not practicable in Hong Kong's context.  
75. A Member suggested that sludge could be used to restore areas which were disturbed or reclaimed. He said that the potential of this use should be increased given the reduction of heavy metal content in local sludge as a result of the migration of industries. MD/ERM said that there was a fair amount of experience overseas in using sludge for restoring land and Hong Kong could follow suit given appropriate incentives. However, he said that there was a large fluctuation in such demand for sludge and there would be a need for long term storage of sludge. While he acknowledged that this option should not be ruled out, he emphasised that this method could by no means solve the whole problem.  
76. Regarding the composting of sewage sludge, MD/ERM suggested that some of the sewage sludge could be mixed with municipal waste for processing in composting plants to avoid direct competition between composting materials produced from sewage sludge and municipal waste. However, he noted that the amount of sludge which could be composted was insignificant. PEPO(WS)/EPD supplemented that 40 hectares of land would be needed for composting all the sludge produced in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, the Administration would not rule out the option of composting as part of the sludge treatment strategy.  
77. The Chairman asked whether the Administration would consider paying entrepreneurs to recycle the sludge produced by sewage treatment plants for useful purposes and thereby avoiding both incineration and land filling costs. PEPO(WS)/EPD said that the Waste Reduction Framework Plan had already proposed various schemes to encourage industries to explore innovative technology for recycling and reducing the quantity of waste. DEP supplemented that the Administration was open-minded about possible co-operation with entrepreneurs but it was necessary for the Administration to have a constant and uninterrupted means of dealing with sludge.  
78. A Member said that it was difficult for him to endorse the suggested Strategy in the absence of further information on the feasibility of other technologies. MD/ERM said that the consultants had considered a reasonable number of technologies in the early stage of the Study. However, it was discovered that other countries had adopted either the incineration or the thermal drying option, irrespective of whether some of the sludge was recycled or disposed in the landfill. DEP undertook to arrange a separate briefing for Members who were interested in the subject before deciding on whether to endorse the Strategy. He would also provide those Members with copies of the full report before the briefing. DEP
79. A Member was concerned that the operating costs of the proposed incineration plant would place a financial burden on members of the public in accordance with the Polluters Pay Principle. PEPO(WS)/EPD said that the Government would carefully consider possible impacts on the economy when introducing or increasing charges. MD/ERM supplemented that the operating and maintenance cost of incineration was the lowest in terms of overall cost per tonne of sludge because it was less energy-intensive and could generate revenue from the electricity produced. DS(E)/PELB noted that members of the public were already paying a price in the form of appalling water quality and adverse health conditions associated with this. The situation would improve with the implementation of Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS) and it was logical that the public should contribute towards the treatment of sludge which was a by-product of sewage treatment.  
80. A Member suggested that the proposed Review of SSDS should take into account the findings of the Sewage Sludge Disposal Strategy Study because the two strategies were closely related.  
81. In response to the Chairman's query, DEP said that LegCo's advice was to co-locate all incineration facilities within an area as far from residents as possible because of air quality concern. As such, it was proposed that the sludge incineration plant should be located next to the waste-to-energy plant for municipal waste.  
82. The Chairman said that a thorough consideration on the proposed Strategy was necessary. He encouraged Members to attend the briefing on the Strategy to be arranged by EPD.  
Agenda Item 7 : Strategy to Improve Vehicle Maintenance and Reduce Smoky Vehicles
(ACE Paper 53/99)
 
83. The Chairman welcomed PAS(E)1/PELB, Atg. PEPO(MV)/EPD, AC/TD and Mgr/VTC to the meeting. PAS(E)1/PELB briefed Members on the measures to promote better vehicle maintenance and the proposal to increase the fixed penalty for smoky vehicles.  
84. A Member said that the Motor Trade Association (MTA) had discussed the issue of improving vehicle maintenance and allowing technical information to be released to maintenance workers. He said that the main suppliers of diesel engines used by taxis and public light buses were prepared to train and issue technical information to maintenance workers.  
85. PAS(E)1/PELB thanked MTA for their cooperation and initiatives for raising the maintenance standards of vehicles. He said that a working group comprising representatives from the vehicle maintenance trade, Service Manager Association and professional bodies was established to discuss ways to raise the maintenance standard. During the recent working group meeting, Members also discussed MTA's proposal and would like to work out mutually acceptable arrangements for the release of service data.  
86. A Member said that MTA noted that the majority of black smoke emission in Hong Kong came from taxis and public light buses. He welcomed the Administration's proposal to increase fixed penalty for smoky vehicles and he agreed that the initiatives proposed would help the vehicle owners to conduct more frequent regular maintenance checks.  
87. The Chairman said that the Council supported the proposal to increase fixed penalty for smoky vehicles.  
Agenda Item 8 : Proposed Amendment to the Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) Regulation
(ACE Paper 54/99)
 
88. The Chairman invited Atg. PEPO(MV)/EPD to brief Members on the proposal to reduce the benzene content in unleaded petrol from 5% to not more than 1%.  
89. In response to the Chairman's query, Atg. PEPO(MV)/EPD said that based on past experience, they believed reducing the benzene content in unleaded petrol would have little impact on the market price of petrol. According to the oil companies, the proposal would lead to not more than 5% increase in fuel price.  
90. A Member said that MTA supported the proposal because benzene produced very high content of cancer-causing dioxins. Another Member shared the view but he suggested the Administration work more closely with the Mainland authorities in harmonising the fuel standards of the two places.  
91. In response to a Member's comments on the use of bio-diesel, DEP noted that used in its pure form it could damage some vehicle engines. For this reason, most countries had decided to ask for it to be used only in a mix with normal diesel, with the bio-diesel being less than 10% of the mix. This meant that the air pollution advantages were minimal. There were also concerns that bio-diesel could not be mixed with ultra low sulphur diesel, which gave significantly greater environmental advantages. Therefore, the main environmental gains from using bio-diesel would be in the area of waste minimization, if it were manufactured from waste cooking oil, etc. EPD were keeping developments in this area in view.  
92. A Member asked about possible tax concessions for hybrid vehicles. DEP agreed that hybrid vehicles could reduce harmful emissions but the extent of reduction would depend on the kind of engines being used. He noted that there was little point in offering tax concession to those hybrid vehicles which were designed mostly to run on petrol rather than electricity. That Member said that MTA would present hybrid vehicle designs to EPD for evaluation and consideration of their potential use in Hong Kong. DS(E)/PELB welcomed MTA's suggestions and encouraged MTA to come up with proposals of heavy vehicles which run on hybrid engines.  
93. The Chairman concluded that the Council supported the proposal to reduce benzene content.  
Agenda Item 9 : Any Other Business  
Tentative Schedule of Work for ACE in 2000  
94. Members noted the tentative schedule of work for ACE.  
Disney Project  
95. Members noted that an informal meeting with Mr. Mike Rowse, Commissioner for Tourism, was arranged on 29 December 1999 at 5:00pm to discuss the upcoming EIA study of the Disney Project.  
Modus Operandi of EIA Sub-committee  
96. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that the EIA Subcommittee was formed with the intention of relieving the Council's work in scrutinising EIA studies. However, it would defeat the purpose if the Council had to consider the EIA report all over again should there be one dissenting voice in the Sub-committee. Moreover, it would lead to difficulties in meeting the 60-day statutory period for the Council's advice and the project proponents often had to waste time in presenting the proposal twice. While he welcomed and respected different views from Members, he opined that it would be more efficient if an EIA report would only be brought up for discussion in the full Council when a certain number of Members raised objections in the Subcommittee discussion stage. Two Members concurred with the EIA Subcommittee Chairman.  
97. Taking into account the views of Members, the Chairman ruled that an EIA report only needed to be brought to the full Council for discussion if one-third or more of the Subcommittee Members had dissenting views or as considered necessary by the Subcommittee Chairman.  
EIA Ordinance  
98. A Member noted that the Council could not challenge the need for a project under the EIA Ordinance. The Chairman said that he saw no reason why the Council could not enquire about the need for a project. However, the Council was not empowered under the EIA Ordinance to reject an EIA report solely because it was not satisfied with the need for a project. DEP said that he would take into account Members' views in a review on the EIA Ordinance and he would seek legal advice on the issues if necessary.  
Agenda Item 10 : Date of Next Meeting  
99. The Chairman said that the date of the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for 31 January 2000.  
Environment and Food Bureau
January 2000
 


 

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