12. The Chairman asked and SPE/AA affirmed that the findings of the Hazard Assessment Study Update (the Study Update) concluded that the risk related to the use of the Ma Wan Channel for transportation of aviation fuel in ocean going tankers, which was assessed to be unacceptable in 1993, could now be reduced to "As Low As Reasonably Practicable". The main reason leading to this was the introduction of the vessel traffic control measures by the Marine Department at the Ma Wan Channel. The AA's findings had also been reviewed by the Government which confirmed that there were unlikely to be additional insurmountable problems in allowing large aviation fuel vessels to pass through Ma Wan Channel. In particular, DEP advised in an answer to the Chairman that the results of the Study Update had been accepted by EPD. In view of the radical change of circumstances, the Chairman asked that a copy of such study/advice be made available to Members.
13. A Member declared that he had an interest in the discussion item as one of his group companies had submitted a proposal to the AA and the Government regarding aviation fuel supply. Considering that a site farther away from Hong Kong would create less environmental problems to the territory, that Member asked if locations outside Hong Kong waters had been explored. In response, GM/AA said that as far as AA was aware, the Government would like to exhaust all possible locations within Hong Kong waters first before considering options outside the Hong Kong boundary. Therefore the AA was now actively examining the three feasible options as presented to the Council.
14. A Member requested that the EIA report to be submitted to Council should include figures of the Study Update. In response to that Member's question on whether the number of vessel accidents in the Ma Wan Channel had dropped, SPE/AA said that the vessel traffic control measures were implemented in 1995. According to his understanding, there had not been any accidents since then, and subject to the view of Marine Department, it appeared that the vessel traffic control measures were working very effectively.
15. A Member was concerned about the safety of people living in and students going to schools in the vicinity of the PAFRF because there was a residential district adjacent to Tuen Mun Area 38 and a planned school area near Sham Shui Kok. SPE/AA advised that the nearest residents to Tuen Mun Area 38 were in fact several kilometers away from the proposed site. SPE/AA also said that there were precedents in locating fuel farms in the vicinity of populated areas e.g. the 170,000 m3 aviation fuel tank farm at the was surrounded by various facilities with the Cathay Pacific City being less than 1 km away. SPE/AA assured that Member that the actual risk in risk hazard terms would be within the acceptable range.
16. A Member queried if it would be necessary to build fuel tanks on the PAFRF since there were already sufficient tanks at the Airport. Manager/AA explained that at present, the fuel was transported from Singapore to Tsing Yi first and then taken by barges to East Sha Chau whereas in future the fuel would be transported from Singapore to the PAFRF direct. More tanks would be needed then. That Member pointed out that the tanks at Tsing Yi would be left idle and he cautioned that that might affect the fuel price level. The Chairman commented that this was unlikely because aviation fuel only constituted a small proportion of the total fuel used in Hong Kong.
17. In reply to that Member's further enquiry, SPE/AA said that the jetty of the PAFRF would be about twice as big as that of East Sha Chau.
18. In response to a Member's questions, SPE/AA said that the growth in marine traffic in Ma Wan Channel had been taken into account during the risk assessment and confirmed that the Tang Lung Chau Dangerous Goods Anchorage was not included in the risk assessment as it could not accommodate large ocean going vessels used for transporting aviation fuel. In response to that Member's question on whether there were any options that could avoid using the Ma Wan Channel, SPE/AA said that the region south of Lantau had been looked at in the search of possible locations for PAFRF but none had been found environmentally and commercially acceptable for installing fuel storage facilities and pipelines for pumping fuel to the Airport.
19. A Member asked whether strategic road links like the North Lantau Expressway and the Railway Link would be taken into account in the detailed EIA study. SPE/AA said that all facilities within the radius of the PAFRF would be evaluated and checked in the EIA process.
20. The Chairman asked and AD(TS)/PlanD replied that the Government would not be able to decide in the next two years whether Tuen Mun West, which was earmarked for port development, could be released for the construction of PAFRF.
21. In response to a Member's enquiry, the Chairman clarified that the Council would advise the Government on the best option for PAFRF from the environmental point of view but the Government and the Executive Council would have to take into account other factors such as economic and social considerations, before making a final decision.
22. In response to a Member's enquiry, SPE/AA said that the pipelines would be 500mm in diameter and would be buried at 3m below the seabed and covered with materials for protection from dragging anchors. The design of the pipelines might be subject to finalisation depending on the findings of the EIA study.
23. The Chairman speculated that in future there would be a vehicle tunnel linking Tuen Mun and the Airport, and asked if AA had considered its possible impact on their proposal. SPE/AA said that AA would take any future developments into account during the EIA process and that techniques were available, such as directional drilling, by which such developments could be minimised, if necessary.
24. A Member suggested the AA consider giving permanent funding to support the operation of the East Sha Chau Marine Park. Manager/AA said that AA had an agreement with the Government that the former would pay for the operation cost of East Sha Chau Marine Park until PAFRF was in place. AD(Conservation)/AFCD supplemented that AFCD would seek additional funding if necessary to meet the operational cost of the Marine Park. Another Member was of the opinion that AA should share the cost because the environment at East Sha Chau could not be restored even after PAFRF was built. CD/AA advised that AA would take note of this request.
25. The Chairman thanked the presentation team for updating the Council and would wish to be kept posted of major developments in the future. The Chairman also indicated that based on the above discussion, ACE had no objection to AA continuing further exploration of these three site options.
Agenda Item 4 : Measures to Address Traffic Noise Impact of Existing Roads
(ACE Paper 39/2000)
26. The Chairman welcomed the presentation team from EFB, Highways Department, Transport Department and EPD to the meeting. PAS(C)/EFB briefed Members on the measures to address traffic noise impact of existing roads.
27. The Chairman was glad that new measures would be taken to tackle chronic noise problems and was interested to know how the Government would prioritize the implementation programme. In reply, PAS(C)/EFB said that the Administration's initial thinking was to implement the measures by phases in the order of the noise exposure levels and the number of people affected.
28. A Member welcomed the new measures but said that there was still room for improvement. He pointed out that some countries imposed noise limit control during daytime and at night whereas Hong Kong only had restrictions in the daytime. Furthermore, the current method on measuring noise exceedances did not take into account duration of the noise impact. He also noticed that according to the Technical Memorandum(TM) of EIA Process, there was no requirement for a project proponent to implement any mitigation measures for a new road if the predicted noise level increase was less than 1dB(A). He was concerned that if the existing noise level had already reached the noise limit of 70dB(A) and more new roads were to be constructed, the cumulative noise impact would be huge if no action would be taken. As regards the low noise surfacing material used on resurfaced roads, that Member asked whether the 3dB(A) noise reduction capability of the material would be gradually lost over time. As people were more sensitive to road noise during nighttime, that Member encouraged the use of traffic management control to tackle the problem at source.
29. In response to that Member's comments, AD(EA&N)/EPD said that EPD shared his concern about cumulative noise impact from roads. He said that the CTS-3 strategic environmental assessment, on which the ACE was consulted in 1999, had presented the cumulative noise impact on a territorial basis. On cumulative noise impacts, he clarified that a project proponent was required to assess the cumulative impact when constructing a new road, and to provide indirect technical remedies (if direct measures were inadequate) to affected premises when (i) the predicted overall noise level was higher than the noise limit; (ii) the predicted overall noise level was 1dB(A) above the prevailing traffic noise level; and(iii) the contribution to the increase in the predicted overall noise level from the new road was more than 1dB(A). On that Member's comment on traffic management control at night, AD(EA&N)/EPD said that at present there were several non-engineering schemes focusing on reducing noise generated by heavy-duty vehicles during nighttime. So far the schemes were considered satisfactory and effective. PAS(C)/EFB supplemented that when applying traffic management control, care must be taken to maintain a smooth traffic flow and most importantly, to avoid shifting the traffic noise problem from one road to another. Successful implementation of traffic control measures also depended on the support of the community and the transport trade. Referring to that Member's enquiry on the lifespan of the low noise surfacing material, PAS(C)/EFB said that the effectiveness of the material would decline over the normal lifespan of two to three years. The Administration would continue to look for more durable materials.
30. The Chairman observed that apart from noise generated by heavy traffic, the gear-break squeak generated by vehicles like public light buses also caused noise nuisance. A Member commented that there was no point in spending millions of dollars on noise barriers if people's driving habits remained unchanged. In reply, PAS(C)/EFB said that the Administration would continue to promote eco-driving among the transport trade including good driving habits which could avoid unnecessary engine noise. Another Member suggested putting in place a control mechanism for bad driving habits similar to that of the smoky vehicles penalty scheme. PAS(C)/EFB said that under existing law, it was illegal to modify vehicles to generate greater noise or to overload vehicles, however there was no provision for penalizing drivers with bad driving habits. DEP said that there was no magic solution for noise problems in Hong Kong because there were too many people living too close to roads.
31. A Member said that noise barriers at source were more effective in reducing noise. They were also shorter in height when compared to barriers surrounding the affected premises. In that context, it was difficult to understand why the Highways Department (HyD) had been rejecting the developers' proposals for new developments to provide noise barriers at source. DD/HyD responded that HyD normally allowed construction of barriers at source subject to space being available and appropriate conditions imposed by the Government. In most cases the proposals were rejected because there was not enough space for erecting barriers on existing roads.
32. A Member urged the Administration to learn from overseas and use better quality and pleasant looking noise barriers such as those adopted in North America and Australia.
33. A Member supported the new measures and urged the Administration to plan carefully for future developments with an aim to minimize the need for road construction as far as possible.
34. In reply to a Member, AD(EA&N)/EPD said that EPD had had a preliminary discussion with HyD and as to the detailed design studies would investigate, among other things, the feasibility of including some solar panels on noise barriers. That Member said that the Energy Office in Electrical and Mechanical Services Department could provide such information.
35. Noting that at least four out of the 29 road retrofitting programmes were in Tseung Kwan O, a Member asked whether that was due to poor planning and what precautions could be taken to prevent it from happening again. In reply, AD(EA&N)/EPD said that the planning of Tseung Kwan O new town started in the 1980s when relevant standards were more lenient. Another reason was that the number of heavy-duty vehicles increased rapidly through the years in that area. In response to the Chairman's enquiry, AD(EA&N)/EPD assured Members that much higher standards had been adopted for the planning of Tung Chung new town.
36. A Member said that though tram was considered an environmentally friendly transport, the noise it generated was comparable to other vehicles. PAS(C)/EFB replied that he would convey that Member's comment to TD for consideration.
37. The Chairman thanked the presentation team and the Administration for its efforts to address noise impacts of existing roads. He hoped that more could be done in that area in the future.
Agenda Item 5 : Western District Development Strategy (WDDS)
(ACE Paper 40/2000)
38. The Chairman welcomed DPO(HK)/PlanD and the presentation team to the meeting. DPO(HK)/PlanD briefed Members on the WDDS with the help of a power-point presentation.
39. The Chairman asked whether it would be safe for hydrofoils and speedboats traveling to Macau to continue to use the Channel after reclamation. He also asked why the MTR alignment should take a big loop from Kennedy Town to Belcher's Area instead of going straight through. DPO(HK)/PlanD clarified that at present large vessels and speed vessels would travel through the north of Tsing Chau or the west of Green Island (Western Channel) only. Hence, navigational safety in Sulphur Channel would not be a problem.
40. As regards the MTR alignment, DPO(HK)/PlanD explained that the loop was so designed to minimize disruption to the residents in Shek Tong Tsui and Belcher's Area and to provide the necessary geometrical angle to make way for an overrun tunnel and stabling area at the Kennedy Town Station.
41. A Member felt that the proposed MTR Stations were too distant from the center of the population and asked why they could not be located closer for the convenience of the passengers. He considered that the Administration should make efforts to avoid the construction of Route 7 and Route 10 if railway was regarded as a preferred transportation backbone for Hong Kong. He was concerned that road traffic between western and central districts of the Hong Kong Island would add to the already heavy traffic and would adversely affect air quality in the region. Another Member supported that Member's views and said that it would not only be environmentally undesirable, but also economically undesirable to reclaim land for Route 7 and Route 10 if genuine need for the two routes had not been established.
42. In response to that Member's first query, SE(TS)2/HyD said that the locations of the MTR alignment and stations were determined after taking into account land resumption cost, construction cost, engineering feasibility, and operational need. With regard to those two Members's views about Route 7 and Route 10, DPO(HK)/PlanD said that the proposed WDDS was an integrated plan for the district having regard to comments made by the public and interested parties. He further explained that the location of the Belcher's Garden MTR Station was chosen underneath Pokfulam Road so as to serve the residents in southern district as well. The Kennedy Town MTR Station would make use of the ex-abattoir site which might become an interchange with the proposed Outer Western Rail Corridor linking Hong Kong Island and north Lantau. On the issue of developing rail link to south Hong Kong Island, DPO(HK)/PlanD said that preliminary views of the Government's Railway Development Office was that a mass transit type system to the Southern District would not be viable due to the relatively small and scattered population in the area. The Southern District would need to be supported by other transport systems. Finally, he said that Route 7 was not expected to take up a large reclamation area.
43. The Chairman felt that without understanding the rationale behind the planning for the WDDS, it would be difficult for Members to offer substantive advice. He suggested that PlanD provide more details about WDDS, in particular the reasons for providing the various features. A Member supported the Chairman's suggestion and said that information such as the timeframe for the proposed road link and rail link to Lantau, the air quality impact of the new roads (Route 7 and Route 10) in that area, and increase in traffic load to the central part of Hong Kong Island should be presented together with the Strategy.
44. DPO(HK)/PlanD emphasised that the WDDS was a conceptual plan at an early planning stage and would be modified after reviewing comments received during the consultation exercise. He trusted Members would appreciate that it would be impractical to undergo expensive detailed consultancy study for the plan before a more definitive plan had been drawn up. According to TD, Route 10, the Outer Western Corridor and the rail link to Lantau would not be required until 2016. Though without a committed timeframe for the routes, it would be appropriate to include them in this conceptual plan so as to indicate the land use impact of such a reserve.
45. In response to a Member's enquiry, DPO(HK)/PlanD said that 80% of the estimated population in the WDDS fell within the 400m radius service boundary of the proposed MTR Stations.