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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 72nd Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 27 March 2000 at 2:30 p.m.

Present:
Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, GBS, JP (Chairman)
Mr. Clement CHEN
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Professor LAM Kin-che
Mr. Edwin LAU
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming
Dr. NG Cho-nam
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP
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. CHAN Kwok-wai, JP
Miss Ann CHIANG
Mr. Barrie COOK
Mr. Paul C. H. FAN
Professor Peter HILLS
Professor Anthony HEDLEY, JP
Mr. Joseph LAU Man-wai, JP
The Hon. Dr. LEONG Che-hung
Mr. TAN Teng Huat


In Attendance:

 

Mrs. Lily YAM Secretary for the Environment and Food (SEF)
Mr. Kim SALKELD Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment & Lands (Environment) (DS(E), PELB)
Mr. Bosco FUNG Director of Planning (D of Plan)
Mr. Mike STOKOE Deputy Director, Environmental Protection Department (DD/EPD)
Mr. Benny WONG Assistant Director (Waste & Water), EPD (AD(WW)/EPD)
Mr. S P LAU Assistant Director (Conservation), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AD(Conservation)/AFCD)
Ms. Polly LEUNG Principal Information Officer, EPD
Miss Petula POON Chief Executive Officer (A)1, EFB
Miss Cora SO Executive Officer (B), EFB
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 4:
 
Mr. G M ROSS Assistant Director/Task Force Black Spots, Lands Department (AD(TF)/Lands D)
Mr. H K LAM Principal Land Control Officer/Task Force Black Spots, Lands D (PLCO(TF)/Lands D)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 5:
 
Mr. LIU cheuk-fan Acting Divisional Officer (Policy and Support Division, Licensing and Control Command), Fire Services Department (Atg. DO/FSD)
Mr. Warren WONG            Senior Environmental Protection Officer (Territory West)4, EPD (SEPO(TW)4/EPD)
 
In Attendance for Agenda Item 6:
 
Mr. Patrick LAU Acting Secretary for Planning and Lands (Atg. SPL)
Mr. P L PO Head, Design Competition Task Force, Planning and Lands Bureau (Head(TF)/PLB)
Mrs. June LI Assistant Director (Metro), Planning Department (AD(Metro)/Plan D)
Ms. Lonnie NG Assistant Secretary (Planning)4, PLB (AS(P)4/PLB)
In Attendance for Agenda Item 7:
 
Mr. Patrick LAU Acting Secretary for Planning and Lands
Ms. S C LAU Acting Chief Town Planner (Planning Standards and Studies), Plan D (Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D)

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  Action
The Chairman welcomed Mr. Mike Stokoe and Mr. Benny Wong to the meeting. Mr. Stokoe was sitting in for Mr. Rob Law who had other commitments.  
    
Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 71st Meeting held on 21 February 2000  
2. The minutes were confirmed subject to the proposed amendments to para. 37 and 40.  
    
Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising  
Para. 5 : Commission on Strategic Development - "Bringing the Vision to Life"  
3. The Chairman said that since Mr. Patrick Lau, Acting SPL would join the meeting later, the matter would be discussed under AOB.  
Para. 7 : Mechanism for revising and refining the management and operation of Public Transport Interchanges (PTIs)  
4. The Chairman said that the Transport Bureau (TB) had advised that the forecasted vehicle and pedestrian flow in a PTI would be taken into account during the design stage to ensure that the layout of the PTI, such as the number of bays and the width of pedestrian access, would be adequate. Where appropriate, the services provided for the management and operation of the PTI would be refined having regard to changes in the utilisation of the PTI.  
Para. 12 : Contracting out of PTIs  
5. The Chairman said that TB had advised that the management and maintenance of the Airport Express transport interchanges that served the Hong Kong Station, Kowloon Station and Tsing Yi Station had already been contracted out to the MTRC. Meanwhile, Transport Department (TD) was looking at a number of possible arrangements for the management and maintenance of PTIs with regard to the cost-effectiveness of each option and the specific operational needs at individual PTIs. EFB/PLB
6. The Chairman informed Members that according to Territory Development Department, the NEF25 contour currently used was developed in the Chek Lap Kok Airport EIA Study Update (1998). It was a prediction using the Federal Aviation Authority's latest Integrated Noise Model on the basis of the best available forecast of air fleet mix and traffic figures.  
Para. 42 : Plastic stopper for wine bottles  
7. DD/EPD said that according to information obtained from a plastic stopper manufacturer through several web pages, plastic stopper could provide a better seal as compared with natural cork. Plastic stopper was made from polyethylene and was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Polyethylene was non-toxic and contained only carbon and hydrogen. Burning it would not produce toxic gases but only insignificant amount of carbon dioxide. As for the potential impact to wildlife, both plastic stopper and natural cork could be hazardous should they be littered and not properly managed. However, natural cork crumbled more readily than plastic stopper in case animals chewed it. The plastic stopper manufacturer claimed that the stoppers were 100% recyclable. It was also noted that natural cork trees took 9 to 11 years to grow before their barks could be harvested. DD/EPD said that the information could be made available to interested Members.  
8. The Chairman said that he was concerned about the disposal problem of plastic stoppers due to their high resilience characteristic whereas natural cork would probably crumble over a few years. DD/EPD said that so far they were not aware of any control imposed on the product in other countries.  
9. Upon the enquiry from the Chairman, a Member said that WWF International had looked into the issue. The concern was mainly the loss of business of the cork extraction industry in places like Chile and Portugal and with this, the reduced incentive for forest conservation. She commented that the hazard to wildlife due to improper disposal of plastic stopper was not a great concern in Hong Kong. However, people should be educated on proper disposal of waste.  
Para. 44 : Planning of Lantau Island
(ACE Paper 12/2000)
 
10. Members noted that in response to their request at the last meeting, Plan D had prepared an information paper which provided an overview of the major planning studies and infrastructural projects on Lantau Island. The paper had been circulated to Members.  
Para. 52 : Styrene spillage incident on 5 February 2000  
11. The Chairman said that Fire Services Department would brief Members on the details of the incident under Agenda Item 5.  
Agenda Item 3 : Review of Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme
(ACE Paper 7/2000)
 
12. At the invitation of the Chairman, DS(B)/EFB briefed Members on the Administration's plans in respect of the Review of the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS) and the expected timetable for conducting the review.  
13. A Member welcomed the paper and the transparency of the exercise. He asked whether the financial analyst had any experience in sewage treatment and disposal projects. DS(B)/EFB said that the financial analyst had experience in providing financial analytical input to major infrastructural projects. He would provide input on the finance side of the SSDS project whereas a number of other members of the Review Panel were experts in sewage treatment and water quality monitoring.  
14. A Member said that the SSDS EIA Stage II report had yet to be submitted to ACE. He wondered how the environmental impact concerns could be taken into account in the review. SEF assured Members that the review process would be open and participatory and that the Administration had no preconceived ideas on further development of the SSDS. Parties concerned would have opportunities to make submissions to the Review Panel. The Administration would also arrange for the Review Panel to meet ACE and the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs in April/May. As regards the SSDS EIA Stage II report. SEF felt that since the review on the SSDS would soon commence, this might not be the appropriate time to consult ACE on the EIA report but she welcomed Members' views on this. Another Member agreed that the EIA report should be submitted to the Council for consideration after the Review Panel had completed its work.  
15. The Chairman asked, and DS(B)/EFB agreed, that Members would be kept informed of progress of the review.  
16. A Member asked whether it was possible to appoint the Chairman of the EIA Subcommittee as a member of the Review Panel. Another Member said that this might create conflict of interest as the EIA Sub-committee would eventually have to consider the environmental implications of the recommended way forward.  
17. Considering that the sewage tunnels under Stage I were largely completed, a Member was concerned that huge sums of public funds would be wasted if the Review Panel were to advise the Administration to stop Stage I works at this juncture. DS(B)/EFB explained that the there was concern amongst certain LegCo Members about the merits of continuing with Stage I works and it would be prudent to ask the Review Panel to examine this as well. The Review Panel would have to take into account all factors including the investment and progress made thus far.  
18. SEF said that the community would be given further opportunities to comment on the Review Panel's recommendations which were expected to be available by end of October 2000. She hoped that through this process, a consensus could be reached on the best way forward in handling sewage from the main urban areas.  
Agenda Item 4 : Progress Report of Interdepartmental Working Group on Flytipping Control
(ACE Paper 8/2000)
 
19. The Chairman welcomed AD(TF)/Lands D and PLCO(TF)/Lands D to the meeting. He invited AD(TF)/Lands D to brief Members on the progress of work undertaken by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Flytipping Control (IWG) against illegal dumping of waste.  
20. Noting that the total amount of fines imposed in 1998 was only around $800,000, the Chairman asked whether the sum could cover the cost of combating flytipping activities. A Member queried whether there was sufficient deterrent effect when the present level of fines for flytipping was only similar to that for littering. AD(TF)/Lands D said that the actual fines were handed down by the courts.  
21. SEF asked whether the law provided for different maximum penalties for repeated offenders. DD/EPD said that flytipping activities were controlled under several ordinances. The Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) which was enforced by EPD had different maximum penalties for repeated offenders. He said that the difficulty was to collect evidence to prove that the offenders were repeating the illegal act.  
22. A Member suggested the Administration to arrange meetings with the judges to present to them the seriousness of the problem and the Administration's difficulty in legislation enforcement. He said that the former Municipal Councils had adopted such approach and succeeded in raising the judges' awareness regarding hawker control. SEF felt that that Member's suggestion merited further consideration. EFB
EPD
23. Noting that the average amount of fines in EPD's cases was several times higher than the others, a Member asked whether that was due to the difference in the magnitude of damage or other reasons. He said that during his trip to Tai Tong in Yuen Long, he saw many dump trucks filling earth to create a golf course. He wondered if action should be taken to stop the damage to the environment.  
24. DD/EPD said that the difference in the figures was probably due to different levels of maximum penalty under different ordinances. For example, under the WDO, the maximum penalty for first and second offences was respectively $200,000 plus 6-month imprisonment and $500,000 plus 6-month imprisonment. For continuous offence, $10,000 per day would be charged. Under the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisance By-law which was looked after by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, flytipping would be charged a maximum fine of only $25,000. AD(Conservation)/AFCD clarified that the figures related to AFCD was for littering in country parks rather than flytipping. As regards the earth filling in Tai Tong, PLCO(TF)/Lands D said that he was not aware of the case but would report it to Plan D for necessary action.  
25. A Member said that there should be a provision on holding the offenders responsible for paying the clean-up cost. Another Member echoed that Member's view and cited an example in which a landowner was requested to bear the cost of reinstating a wetland near Ting Kok Road which was damaged due to flytipping by another developer.  
26. A Member said that the availability of evidence was a crucial factor in prosecuting the real offenders and it would be easier to collect the evidence if the database of the Task Force (Black Spots) was using GIS. AD(TF)/Lands D said that the database being used was only designed for recording individual cases and monitoring clean-up work. He suggested that AFCD should identify areas which deserved special protection and impose development control on those areas.  
27. A Member said that the comparison of the amount of fines collected and the clean-up cost should be presented to the judges to convince them of the seriousness of flytipping. He asked whether it was possible for Members of the Council to attend a meeting between the Administration and the judges. SEF said that we should be careful not to exert pressure so that we could be said to be interfering with the independence of judges.  
28. In reply, D of Plan said that degradation of the countryside started off with the loss of a court case by Government in 1983 when landowners convinced the court that storing containers on agricultural land was not in contravention of the Block Crown Lease. Though the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) was introduced in 1991, the containers already stored on private land etc. were declared existing uses and the law could not take retrospective effect on them. The Administration had been persuading the landowners to beautify their land but that was only of little effect. Under the TPO, a reinstatement cost could be claimed but the process could take many years. At present, the Administration could only take action against flytipping in Development Permission Areas (DPA).  
29. A Member considered that prevention was better than cure and suggested that the law should be amended to hold the management responsible for flytipping, and that education should be strengthened to raise public awareness on combating such illegal act. AD(TF)/Lands D said that there was a complaint hotline for the public to report flytipping cases, and he would ensure that the hotline number was given good publicity.  
30. In response to a Member's query, AD(TF)/Lands D said that the police did participate in the IWG but tended to play a back-seat role in the issue due to other priorities.  
31. In response to a Member's query, AD(TF)/Lands D said that they recognized the effectiveness of dumping prevention work and more funds than last year would likely be obtained for this year's work. However, the Task Force's main focus would remain on cleaning up black spots.  
32. In response to the Chairman's query, AD(TF)/Lands D said that they had frequent meetings with District Boards to explain the work of the Task Force and would in the future give greater emphasis to the flytipping issues.  
33. A Member suggested that to prevent dumping, South Lantau, which was at present covered by an Outline Zoning Plan (OZP), should be covered as a DPA. In reply, D of Plan said that it would involve amendments to the existing law and full support of the LegCo would be required. He said that when the TPO was passed in 1991, LegCo Members made it clear that they were reluctant to extend the enforcement power beyond DPA because that would involve considerable amount of enforcement work on unauthorized developments in the urban/new town areas.  
34. A Member was concerned that if dumping and flytipping were controlled under different ordinances, the court could not charge an offender for repeated acts without knowing whether he had committed similar offences under other ordinances. He thus proposed consolidating existing related ordinances into one to fill the loophole. He also suggested imposing short-term imprisonment for repeated offenders. u said that it would be difficult to have one ordinance to control flytipping because different ordinances targeted different situations. He said that WDO did have provision for imprisonment penalty but DD/EPD said that it had never been applied because the court did not rule that such offence merited imprisonment.  
35. In response to a Member's query on the Sham Chung earth filling case, AD(TF)/Lands D explained that the Administration could not take action because the land involved was private land which was not covered by DPA.  
36. In response to the Chairman's query, AD(Conservation)/AFCD said that the project team of the Biodiversity Survey was working on classifying hot spots of conservation value. The report was expected to be ready in a few months' time.  
37. The Chairman thanked AD(TF)/Lands D and PLCO(TF)/Lands D for the briefing and expressed support to the work of the Task Force. He requested Lands D to report progress in a year's time. Lands D
    
Agenda Item 5 : Styrene Spillage Incident on 5 February 2000
(ACE Paper 9/2000)
 
38. The Chairman welcomed Atg. DO/FSD and SEPO(TW)4/EPD to the meeting. Atg. DO/FSD gave a brief account of the styrene spillage incident which occurred on 5 February 2000 and the measures taken to tighten control of storage, manufacture and conveyance of dangerous goods (DG).  
39. The Chairman said that to improve the efficiency of the Administration in taking appropriate actions against similar incidents, it would be useful if information on DG conveyance could be stored in a centralized computer system so that the Administration could check whether there were DG on the concerned vehicle and adopt suitable emergency procedures.  
40. Atg. DO/FSD said that this might not be practicable because DG were being transported everywhere in Hong Kong and checking it up in the computer could delay the rescue process. However, the proposed requirement for the consignors of DG to issue a transport document to the operators of DG vehicles could ensure that the drivers had knowledge on the details of DG being carried and the proper emergency procedures to be followed. Also, through the mandatory training scheme, all DG vehicle drivers could gain adequate knowledge and skills on the proper practices and emergency procedures in handling DG.  
41. A Member asked whether the Administration adopted the same practice as overseas whereby the route for transporting DG would be carefully selected to avoid environmentally sensitive areas. He was surprised that the tanker ruptured in the accident because he expected it to be tougher for holding DG. He suggested providing or requiring an escort such as a certified chemist during DG conveyance to ensure that instant actions would be taken when accidents occurred.  
42. Atg. DO/FSD said that FSD had considered limiting the routes for DG conveyance but decided that it was not practical given the high frequency of conveyance and the limited road space in Hong Kong. However, they did note that large quantities of DG were usually transported through the trunk roads, such as Route 1, Route 3, etc. and avoided from going through densely populated areas. As regards packaging of DG and stability of tankers, Atg. DO/FSD said that FSD followed the most stringent international standards (viz. The standard for shipment of such substances) on classification, labeling and packaging of DG; and the tanker concerned was required to be certified in compliance with integrity and stability standards by a registered surveyor or engineer. For escort service, Atg. DO/FSD said that at present only Category 5 Class I DG in containers required escort on the vehicle. The Department needed to strike a balance between economic and safety considerations should escort service be extended to other categories of DG.  
43. A Member was concerned that the tidal movement of the coastal wetland environment had not been taken into account during post-accident water monitoring. According to measurements taken by the City University of Hong Kong, styrene was found in sediment 300 meters upstream and he could smell the chemical after a month. To protect the environment of the Ramsar site, that Member suggested that the Administration should keep a list of harmful chemicals and their quantity stored in the Yuen Long Industrial Estate and develop emergency procedures should accidents occur. Indeed, for incidents like the styrene case, the Administration should conduct risk assessment on site and adopt a precautionary approach in post-accident monitoring. He also urged the Administration to be more transparent to the public.  
44. SEPO(TW)4/EPD said that styrene was known to have weak bonding with soil and a half-life of two to four weeks in soil which enabled the chemical to degrade rapidly. The concentration measurement taken by the City University was below 2mg/litre which was considered very low. He said that the Administration already had standard emergency response plans to handle such accidents. Also, EPD was quick to respond and after monitoring for two days, an account of the accident was released to inform the public that the accident would not have serious consequence to the environment.  
45. In response to the Chairman's concern for proper emergency procedures for handling really toxic spillages such as cyanide, Atg. DO/FSD said that it was hoped that vehicle drivers, after implementation of the proposed training and transport document system, would be better equipped to handle spillage of different types of DG.  
46. In response to a Member's query about the assessment of risk for Ramsar site, Atg. DO/FSD said that upon receiving applications for DG storage, FSD would assess both on-site (possible impacts to occupants) and off-site risks (possible impacts to nearby residents). Also, under the Hong Kong Planning Standards & Guidelines, the applicant of a potentially hazardous installation (i.e. storage quantity exceeding the threshold limit) was required to undertake a quantitative risk assessment before the application was approved. As regards existing storage locations, FSD would carry out regular checks on the compliance with fire services requirements.  
47. A Member commended the timely response and efforts of the Administration on the incident. Considering that there was an oil spillage contingency plan for temporary aviation fuel receiving facilities to protect White Dolphins in Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau, a Member suggested devising a similar plan for Deep Bay. She said that there were overseas researches on the bio-toxicity effects of chemicals on wetland but they only focused on the effects in water. She suggested that sediment accumulation monitoring and bioassay should be built in the Ramsar baseline monitoring system.  
48. In response to the Chairman's query on the availability of tailor-made contingency plans for different chemicals, AD(WW)/EPD said that it was difficult to design specific plan for each chemical, given the large number of chemicals involved. He further explained the detailed steps EPD had taken in handling the styrene spillage. He said that having been informed of the accident, EPD deployed one team of staff to the scene of the accident while another team searched through its database about the physical and toxic properties of styrene. A quick Source-Pathway-Receiver analysis showed that the sensitive receiver was the Mai Po wetland and that the transportation mechanism was the water. EPD therefore focused on taking water samples. The test results of the water samples agreed with the prediction that styrene concentration would decrease very quickly in the water environment. Considering that styrene had low bio-accumulation potential in the food-chain, monitoring was terminated after the styrene concentration decreased to a level below the toxic threshold. He said that EPD would review the adequacy of the contingency plan based on experience obtained.  
49. In response to a Member and the Chairman's request for a paper setting out the guidelines and emergency plans for handling spillage of common types of chemicals, DD/EPD said that it was difficult for such plans to go into details because permutations of chemicals that could be involved in accidents were quite large. He said that existing plans were detailed enough to provide a framework for departments to follow. In response to that Member's previous remarks about smelling styrene after a month, DD/EPD pointed out that styrene had a low odour threshold which could be smelt even in a small amount.  
    
Agenda Item 6 : Design Competition for West Kowloon Reclamation
(ACE Paper 10/2000)
 
50. The Chairman welcomed Head(TF)/PLB, AD(Metro)/Plan D and AS(P)4/PLB to the meeting. At the invitation of the Chairman, Head(TF)/PLB gave a presentation on the details of the Design Competition.  
51. Atg. SPL supplemented that the Administration aimed at an environmentally-friendly design. Planning parameters such as building roads underground, providing covered walkways, encouraging use of public transport would be laid out in the Competition Brief. Contenders would also be encouraged to design energy-efficient buildings.  
52. A Member said that developers would be tempted to build high-rise buildings in front of the Harbour and that would affect the landscape. He asked whether height restriction would be imposed on the developments. Head(TF)/PLB said that they intended to provide as much flexibility as possible to the design but contenders would be asked to take into account overall development of the district. AD(Metro)/Plan D supplemented that no height restriction would be imposed but contenders should assess visual impact of their designs to ensure harmony and compatibility with the surroundings. Atg. SPL added that contenders must give justification if anything proposed falls outside the core facilities.  
53. The Chairman was interested to know what the Administration would do if not a single design, but parts of various designs were found appealing. He commented that building an arts village in that area seemed to be an expensive way to provide an environment for creativity. He also suggested appointing an environmentalist instead of a Member of the Council to the concerned panels to avoid conflict of interest because ultimately the related EIA report would be considered by the Council.  
54. A Member asked whether the proposed core facilities, in particular the museums, must be included in the design. Head(TF)/PLB said that the facilities were included in the proposal to justify the Government's planning objective of creating an integrated arts, cultural and entertainment district. To answer the Chairman's first query, Head(TF)/PLB said that the Government would obtain copyright of the winning designs. For the arts village, Head(TF)/PLB said that the local arts community might wish to have dedicated workshops in a cluster to promote cross fertilization among themselves and with visiting artists. He added that in working out the list of core facilities, they had consulted the Home Affairs Bureau which was responsible for cultural policy. He further said that the contenders would have to demonstrate the financial viability of their proposals.  
55. A Member considered that the development should comprise facilities with a view to creating a cultural atmosphere instead of just providing disconnected facilities. He was glad that the development would be environmentally friendly and urged the Administration to minimize vehicle activities in that area; maximize energy-saving/efficient design and provide more greening to the area. He asked how the criteria would be conveyed to the contenders.  
56. Atg. SPL said that the criteria would be set out in the Competition Brief to be issued to all contestants. The contestants would be required to provide broad environmental assessment as well as traffic impact assessment. A representative from environment groups would be invited to participate in the evaluation process to ensure that the environmental angle would not be overlooked.  
57. A Member said that the designs should take into account the visual impact of existing flyovers. He suggested including a cultural/heritage museum unique to Hong Kong to attract tourists. Head(TF)/PLB said that the contenders would be required to conduct a visual impact assessment for their designs. Atg. SPL said that there were works going on to enhance preservation of heritage in Hong Kong. For example, apart from an existing heritage museum in Shatin, a study was also being undertaken on the use of the former Marine Police Headquarters in Tsimshatsui. He said that it would not be compatible to have a heritage museum on a reclaimed site like WKR.  
58. A Member said that the designs should not be restricted by existing flyovers. He suggested providing the whole area with pedestrian conveyance system to create a car-free area.  
    
Agenda Item 7 : Study on Planning for Pedestrians
(ACE Paper 11/2000)
 
59. The Chairman welcomed Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D to the meeting and invited her to brief Members on the scope and stages of consultation of the Study.  
60. The Chairman said that greater emphasis should be put on highlighting the economic benefits of the planning so as to gain support from the business sector. He suggested that the planning should take into account environmentally friendly and green designs. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D agreed and said that the design of the walkways should be more innovative and inviting for pedestrian use.  
61. A Member considered that too much time might be spent on developing planning and design principles and guidelines, instead more efforts should be made on developing feasible implementation plans for priority areas. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D said that they had received opposite views from the Planning Subcommittee of the LBAC that the Study should take a macro view and Plan D would balance different views before finalising the study brief.  
62. Noting that the Study only covered Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, a Member asked whether it was possible to include the New Territories as well. He suggested Plan D consider Kam Tin so as to promote tourism in that heritage. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D said that it was difficult to include more areas given the limited fund. The Chairman suggested deleting one area in the urban area and adding one in the rural area, thus broadening the scope of the Study. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D said that most of the areas in the New Territories had already been covered by studies on strategic growth area in which pedestrian planning would be incorporated. Nevertheless, she agreed to consider Members' suggestion.  
63. SEF observed that it appeared that it would be some time before the study's findings could be implemented. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D said that the Study was expected to be completed by 2001 and it would make recommendations on the implementation aspect. The implementation would not be the responsibility of one single department but would be shared by different concerned departments. D of Plan supplemented that the implementation of pedestrian planning would rely on the co-operation of a number of departments but the detailed division of work had yet to be discussed. Atg. SPL said that like all planning studies, Plan D would oversee the work and invite views from various bureaux/departments, especially TB/TD in the present case. Once the Study was completed, the report would be circulated to all bureaux/departments concerned and be discussed in inter-departmental/bureau co-ordination forum and the Committee on Planning, Lands and Development.  
64. The Chairman remarked that as far as he was aware, the Jockey Club was considering to offer support to environmental projects, in particular those which would contribute towards alleviating air pollution in Hong Kong. He suggested requesting the consultants to identify possible measures to relief the current situation in the short-term. Atg. CTP(PS)/Plan D agreed to consider including the suggestion in the study brief.  
65. A Member said that the Highways Department prohibited the planners from altering the highways when she was involved in a restructuring study in Kowloon. Henceforth, it was important to get relevant parties' cooperation to work towards a common goal of improving the living conditions for people in Hong Kong. And there must be a central authority to give orders of responsibilities for different parties. D of Plan said that it was precisely the reason why Plan D was developing the pedestrian planning guidelines to set a benchmark for all departments.  
    
Agenda Item 8 : Any Other Business  
Tentative Schedule of Work for ACE in 2000  
66. Members noted the tentative schedule of work.  
Expenditure on the Environment for 2000/01
(ACE Paper 13/2000)
 
67. Members noted that an information paper was tabled setting out the estimates of expenditure on environment programmes for the year 2000/01.  
Bills Committee on Urban Renewal Authority Bill  
68. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee on Urban Renewal Authority (URA) Bill invited representatives of the Council to attend their meeting on 14 April 2000 to exchange views on the URA Bill. He asked if any Members would volunteer to present the Council's views on the Bill based on the discussion at the Council meeting held on 29 November 1999. Since no Member could attend the meeting, the Chairman said that a written submission would be handed to the Bills Committee.  
Beach Water Quality in Hong Kong for 1999
(ACE Paper 14/2000)
 
69. The Chairman thanked the Waste & Water Division of EPD for preparing the report before the swimming season.  
70. DS(B)/EFB said that EFB had just secured Finance Committee's funding approval to proceed with two sewerage projects, at Sham Tseng and at Cheung Chau.  
Commission on Strategic Development - "Bringing the Vision to Life"  
71. Atg. SPL said that PLB was encouraged by the Commission's endorsement of the need to adhere to the principles of a sustainable development. He was glad to know that the Commission welcomed the Administration's initiatives on the Study of Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV 21), the proposed setting up of the Council for Sustainable Development and a fund to support educational programmes. He told Members that the SUSDEV 21 was anticipated to be finalized by mid-2000 and they were deliberating on the most suitable institutional arrangement for the Council for Sustainable Development.  
72. Atg. SPL elaborated on two areas which required attention as identified by the Commission, namely "the need for innovative planning and design to provide a more attractive and environmentally friendly city-form" and "preservation of buildings, precincts and other features of historical and architectural significance". For the first area, he said that greater flexibility in design was achieved following the Town Planning Board's decision to relax planning control in terms of site coverage but not at the expense of development density. The building height and plot ratio would remain the same. Also, a study for pedestrian planning was about to commence as discussed under Agenda Item 7. At the same time, PLB was reviewing the building regulation to facilitate building design to be more environmentally friendly. Plan D was also considering commissioning a landscape value study in the coming financial year to enhance design of city-forms and to preserve landscape. As regards the second area, one of the mandates of the Urban Renewal Authority, which was proposed to be established by mid-2000, was to preserve historical buildings. The preservation of historical buildings in the New Territories would be pursued in the planning of the strategic growth areas. He said that the Commission's vision was a 30-year horizon which tallied with the timeframe of the new round of the Territorial Development Strategic Review. The Review, tentatively entitled "Hong Kong 2030 - Planning Vision and Strategy", would commence in mid-2000. It would examine not only the "quality of life" but also the other three strategic themes in the Commission's report.  
73. DS(B)/EFB said that to achieve all of the four strategic themes in the Commission's report, there was an environmental imperative. Hong Kong's image would be tarnished if people continued to hear reports about polluted air and water which directly undermined the quality of life. Competitiveness was also harmed as half a percentage point of GDP went on either direct medical cost caused by air pollution or loss of productivity as people were admitted to hospitals. He said that the key things EFB was working on were in support of the strategies laid out in the Policy Address. They included tackling air pollution both visibly and in health terms; keeping up with investment in sewage treatment and water quality management; and developing a much better framework for the protection of the country side. Above all, EFB was trying to get the community to understand more why the above measures were important. It was also important to build up a coalition of various groups such as the business sector, green groups and schools.  
74. A Member said that to get the community's support, environmental education was important. However, he did not see the Government allocating enough resource in the Budget. DS(B)/EFB said that there were some good suggestions recommended by the Working Group on Environmental Education last year. It was recognised that the teachers never lacked education kits and materials to teach, but were not guided on how to make proper use of the materials within the limited time when there already had much to teach. In view of that, discussions on the issue with the Education Department would be needed.  
75. In response to a Member's query on co-ordination of environmental education, DS(B)/EFB said that with the extra resources given to EFB, better co-ordination would be worked out. As a first step, a support team would be set up in the Bureau to provide support to the Council and other committees as well as management co-ordination.  
76. SEF suggested conducting a separate discussion on this important subject. The Chairman agreed and said that he would liaise with DS(B)/EFB on the agenda of that meeting. Secretariat
Friends of the Earth's letter to the Ombudsman  
77. A Member referred to the letter he sent to the Ombudsman and said that the letter focused not on the environmental impact of the Disney Theme Park, but on the consultation procedure of the EIA report. He wondered why Members of the Council were invited to discuss the report on various occasions, including the meeting of LegCo Panel on Economic Services (ES Panel), whereas the report was yet to receive formal consideration by the Council.  
78. SEF said that the Panel secretariat had been advised that it would not be appropriate for either EPD or the Council to attend the ES Panel meeting because a view had not been formed by the Council. DS(B)/EFB clarified that the invitation was sent by the ES Panel, not the Administration.  
79. In response to a Member's query on the lack of clarity of the consultation procedure set out in the EIA Ordinance, DD/EPD disagreed and said that the Ordinance had specified each step of the process and there should not be any misunderstanding.  
80. The Chairman said that as the letter was sent to the Ombudsman, it would be better to wait for her reply rather than holding a lengthy discussion at a meeting of the Council.  
Agenda Item 9 : Date of Next Meeting  
81. The next meeting date was scheduled for 17 April 2000. The Chairman reminded Members that the EIA reports on the Disney Theme Park and the Northshore Lantau Development Feasibility Study would be considered at the next meeting, and encouraged them to attend the meeting to offer views and comments on the reports. He said that as he had declared his interest in the project, he would invite Prof. Lam Kin-che to chair the discussion.  
Environment and Food Bureau
April 2000
 


 

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