20. The Chairman asked the Secretariat to circulate a reply slip for Members to sign up as Subcommittee Members and requested the Subcommittee to set up its house rules and report to the Council at the next meeting.
21. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman informed Members that the Subcommittee would meet tentatively on 10 March 2001 to discuss the house rules and other matters. The details of the meeting would be circulated to Subcommittee Members in due course.
(Post-meeting Note : The first Subcommittee meeting was postponed to 19 March 2001.)
Allocation for Overseas Visits in 2001-02
22. The Chairman thanked EFB for allocating HK$200,000 for Council Members to undertake overseas visit in 2001-02. He said that ACE treasured the opportunity to learn from overseas experience. Overseas visits would also allow Members to get to know each other better and interact outside the rather formal Council meetings.
23. SEF said that the allocation was made available by reducing provisions designated for the Bureau's duty visits in 2001-02. The allocation, if unspent, could not be carried forward to the next financial year. The Bureau would not be able to make the same provision every year. SEF further said that the proposed visit to Europe was only a suggestion for Members' consideration. Members should determine for themselves how best they could make use of the allocation to carry out visits related to the Council's work.
24. The Chairman suggested visiting Oslo and Paris in summer where compact BAF sewage treatment facilities were adopted. On future allocation, he said that Members were prepared to pay for their own expenses in the future if such visits proved to be beneficial.
Agenda Item 4 : Lantau North-South Road Access
(ACE Paper 2/2001)
25. The Chairman alerted Members of a Member's concern that an early discussion of the subject in the Council might pre-empt a fair deliberation of the EIA report to be submitted to the Council in due course. He therefore requested Members not to indicate any definitive approval of the alignment at the meeting.
26. The Chairman welcomed PAS(T)5/TB, DPM(MW)/HyD), CE(MW)/HyD, SE(MW)/HyD, AD(CMP)/AFCD, PEPO/EPD and CE(NTW)/TD to the meeting. PAS(T)5/TB explained that since the Administration previously consulted the Council on the proposal of a road link between Mui Wo and Tai Ho Wan, they felt obliged to seek Members' views on the revised proposal of widening Tung Chung Road as a link between north and south Lantau. PAS(T)5/TB emphasized that the discussion would not pre-empt future statutory procedures of the project. DPM(MW)/HyD then presented the new proposal.
27. Noting that a considerable portion of the southern part of the new road would come off the existing Tung Chung Road, a Member asked if the project should be called a re-alignment rather than a road widening project. Secondly, that Member asked whether there were ways to minimize slope cutting and landfilling, for example, by building a bridge or a tunnel as in some European countries. In response, DPM(MW)/HyD said that it was difficult to provide a safe gradient by widening the middle and southern sections of the existing Tung Chung Road on-line and thus an off-line alignment had to be adopted. He would give thought to the naming of the project as proposed by Mr. Ho. As regards minimizing the cutting and filling of land, DPM(MW)/HyD said that consideration would be given in the detailed design stage.
28. A Member was worried that this project could encourage future development in south Lantau and would induce further expansion of the road. Another Member shared that Member's concern and said that if the purpose of the re-alignment was to alleviate traffic safety problem, the project proponent should analyze the causes of the problem and lay out how the re-alignment could prevent traffic accidents.
29. PAS(T)5/TB assured Members that the Government had planned to preserve south Lantau for conservation and recreation purposes. There was no intention to open up south Lantau for large-scale developments. The Government would control traffic flow of the road by restricting access to residents of Lantau Island only.
30. A Member referred to the previous Member's comment and asked whether the proponent had analyzed the data on accidents. PAS(T)5/TB replied that the single lane Tung Chung Road was being used for two-way traffic at a capacity of 120 vehicles/hour during daytime. Most of the accidents in the past 12 months involved vehicle damage. The number of accidents involving injuries increased from 4 in 1998 to 9 in 2000 and the number of casualties involved from 5 to 37 over the same period. She said that those figures and a full analysis would be included in the EIA report.
31. A Member pointed out that the re-alignment would attract more people to live in village houses/villas in south Lantau and they would obtain road permit after becoming residents, thereby increasing traffic flow and inducing more pressure for the Government to build a wider road or more roads in Lantau. Another Member concurred with that Member and was concerned that the re-alignment was an encouragement in disguise for more development in south Lantau. The Chairman asked the Administration to take note of Members' concerns and that these points would be addressed in the EIA report.
32. A Member said that if the proposed alignment was to be pursued, he would like to see the following included in the EIA report :
traffic control management;
plans and actions to preserve organisms in the streams near the alignment;
to avoid impacts on landscape and other aspects, other means to construct the road apart from cutting slopes; and
mitigation measures and post-construction management of the compensated measures.
33. A Member would like to see the methodology and findings of a detailed ecological impact assessment of the re-alignment.
34. A Member said that the estimated traffic flow arising from the Disney theme park and the Ngong Ping-Tung Chung Cable Car should be taken into account in the EIA study. He also requested the proponent to set out whether they would carry out compensation or other conservation measures on the existing Tung Chung Road after the commissioning of the new road.
35. In response to a Member's inquiry, the Chairman said that according to the information given by the Planning Department last year, there would not be any dramatic development in Lantau.
36. The Chairman said that the Council would not make any decision on the proposed alignment at the present meeting. In response to the Chairman's questions, DPM(MW)/HyD said that consultants would be appointed as soon as possible and that the EIA report would be ready in early 2002.
37. In reply to SEF, the Chairman said that the Council visited Tung Chung Road two years ago. If Members were interested in paying another visit, they should inform the Secretariat which would make the necessary arrangements.
Agenda Item 5 : Proposed Cable Car System Between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping
(ACE Paper 3/2001)
38. The Chairman welcomed AC/Tourism, CE(Islands)/TDD and SE/TDD to the Meeting. AC/Tourism gave a brief introduction, followed by a presentation by SE/TDD.
39. A Member was concerned that there would be considerable environmental impacts during the construction phase. He urged the Administration to give favourable consideration to the bidder who would propose the least destructive construction method. CE(Islands)/TDD said that the Government would take this into account. He added that the experience in Australia showed that construction of similar facilities could be carried out by helicopters.
40. Following his last comment, a Member asked whether access road would be built along the cable car route for future maintenance. CE(Islands)/TDD said that a footpath about four feet wide was all that would be needed for maintenance. SE/TDD supplemented that there was an existing footpath within the Country Park along the Preliminary Preferred Alignment (PPA).
41. A Member said that one of the proponents of the Airport Core Programme Projects was supposed to set up a station on the hill by helicopter but eventually adopted an environmental-destructive way without the knowledge of EPD and the Council. He hoped that the Administration would take serious action against contractors who committed to environmentally friendly construction methods and failed to fulfill those commitments. He then asked why the PPA was favoured and said that comparisons between different alignments considered should be presented in the EIA report.
42. In response, SE/TDD said that a number of factors had been taken into account when drawing up the alignment, such as flight path of helicopters, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), proximity to the fuel tank farm on the Airport Island, visual impacts of Tung Chung Town Development Phase III as well as Fung Shui. He said that the PPA would be further examined in a detailed EIA study to be undertaken by the successful bidder.
43. A Member declared his interest as being a member of the Board of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation which would be a potential bidder for the project.
44. The Chairman was concerned about the size of the turning stations and related facilities which would create adverse visual and noise impacts. He also asked whether the proponent would undertake measures such as re-planting to beautify the not only the affected area but also to create a veritable hillside garden like the Kadoorie Farm. CE(Islands)/TDD said that the size of the turning stations would depend on the system to be used. As for the latter question, he said that in Australia, visitors could walk down from the turning stations to tour around. He would look forward to receiving the bidders' suggestions on how the nearby area could be best exploited. SE/TDD supplemented that the turning stations could be sheltered to reduce noise impact and bidders would need to look at measures to prevent hill fire by, for instance, planting rows of trees along the footpath.
45. In reply to a Member's enquiry, CE(Islands)/TDD said that the number of pillars/towers to be used could range from eight to thirty depending on the system to be used. If fewer towers were built, they would be taller in height and potentially more visually intrusive. The actual size of each tower would range from 9m2 to 16m2 and the work area for each tower would be around 100m2.
46. A Member asked whether the Administration could give more favourable consideration to the bidders proposing towers of smaller size. In response, CE(Islands)/TDD said that the smaller the towers, the greater they would be in number so as to support the system. Another Member imagined that the cable car facilities would be intrusive structures and he was interested to see how the impact would be overcome in the EIA report. The Chairman said that the Council would assess the overall construction impacts of the project itself and against the other bids.
47. Picking up the point of preventing hill fire, a Member said smoking on the cable car should not be allowed. CE(Islands)/TDD replied that this was a problem with anyone in the Country Park. Smoking would not be allowed inside the cabins.
48. On the Chairman's enquiry of the time-table of the project, CE(islands)/TDD said that they intended to finish the tender document within the next couple of months and allow three months for the bidders to submit proposals. The selection process would be completed by the end of 2001 and the EIA study would commence in early 2002 and be finished by mid-2003.
49. A Member envisaged that the Cable Car would attract more tourists to the area and urged the Administration to take into account the cumulative impacts of more tourists traveling in the area. The Chairman agreed with that Member and said that the Council had just been briefed on the re-alignment of Tung Chung Road and Members were concerned about the traffic demand arising from the two projects. CE(Islands)/TDD said that Members' concern was well taken.
50. A Member asked whether the project would require additional facilities and if so, whether the facilities would be covered in the Cable Car EIA study. CE(Islands)/TDD said that the Tung Chung terminus of the Cable Car would be close to the MTR. Additional water supply and sewerage facilities would be required at the Ngong Ping terminus. SE/TDD said that Water Supply Department and Drainage Services Department would be responsible for the additional facilities and would conduct separate EIAs for those facilities.
(Post Meeting Note : The Chairman has asked that those EIAs should some before ACE at the same time.)
51. A Member was concerned that the project would bring about more development in the nearby area. AC/Tourism said that the full impact of the Cable Car project partly depended on the ultimate choice of the system and the operation plan. According to her understanding, Plan D was under a time-table to publish an Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) for Ngong Ping in 2002, and the draft OZP would be made available for public inspection later this year. At. AD(TS)/PlanD supplemented that the intended land-use in Ngong Ping was laid out in the gazetted Ngong Ping Development Permission Area Plan. He felt that there would unlikely be drastic change to the intended land-use in the replacement OZP to be prepared.
52. A Member said that there were SSSIs in the area and to preserve them, there should be access management in view of the increase in visitors.
53. The Chairman thanked the presentation team and looked forward to receiving the EIA report in due course.
Agenda Item 6 : Hong Kong 2030 - Planning Vision and Strategy Stage One Public Consultation - Planning Vision and Key Study Areas
(ACE Paper 4/2001)
54. The Chairman welcomed AD(T)/PlanD to the meeting. AD(T)/PlanD gave a brief introduction of the planning study.
55. The Chairman said that he had attended the Forum of the Study in question and had made some comments on behalf of the Council. One major concern was that there seemed to be a lack of a comprehensiveenvironmental impact assessment of projects around Long Valley which are being contemplated over time that was of high ecological value. As a result, several planned major roads or railways linking up with the Mainland would likely intrude into the area. In reply, AD(T)/PlanD said that a strategic environmental assessment would be carried out under the HK 2030 Study, which would assess the environmental impacts of all the key proposals together.
56. Referring to para. 5 of Annex D of the ACE Paper which read "To achieve the above planning objectives, we need to strike a balance in the demand for and supply of environmental resources", a Member expressed grave concern over how sustainable development was interpreted. He said that experience in other areas proved that "environment" was often sacrificed at the expense of economic growth and other during considerations during the balancing process. He was worried that if the definition of Sustainable Development had not been set out correctly before adopting the resulting principles in strategic planning, the proposals, which would be tested by the Computer-Aided Sustainability Evaluation Tools (CASET), would not achieve the level of sustainability desired.
57. In response, DEP said that the traditional planning approach was to assess the environmental impact after formulating a strategy and then design mitigation measures to compensate for the loss. However, the present new approach would inject environmental considerations in the scenario-building process. As such, EPD would play a greater role in the planning process.
58. Whilst echoing DEP's point above, a Member considered that it should be made clear during the planning consultation process that sustainability was the aim rather than one of the objectives of each planning proposal.
59. On learning that the final report of the Sustainability Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV21) was released recently, A Member asked whether the report would be discussed at a Council meeting. AD(T)/PlanD said that Plan D, if requested, would take pleasure in presenting the report to Members. The Department could also explain the rationale behind CASET to give Members a better understanding of how the evaluation tool would work.
60. A Member commented that one of the approaches of SUSDEV was to make reference to ecological footprint. In that connection, he said that Friends of the Earth (FoE) had recently completed a survey on the ecological footprint of Hong Kong in terms of energy, food, water and urban land, etc. On urban land, it was found that Hong Kong was performing much better than the world's average because high-rise buildings were always built on both sides of the roads. However, performance on transport planning was unsatisfactory due to the doubling of footprint by routes running side by side along the same areas. The Chairman encouraged FoE to submit the methodology and findings of the survey to the Council for reference.
61. In response to that Member's comments, AD(T)/PlanD said that different people had different interpretations of SUSDEV. On the environmental aspect, the Plan D would conduct strategic environmental assessments on planning/development proposals on the basis of statutory and administrative environmental objectives.
62. The Chairman also expressed concern on SUSDEV and cited the Long Valley as an example of unsatisfactory performance as far as SUSDEV was concerned. DS(B)/EFB suggested adopting a more comprehensive look at SUSDEV. He said that the spirit of SUSDEV was that in enjoying a satisfactory economic or social environment, one should also make sure that such an environment was compatible with maintaining the diversity of nature, efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, etc. A Member concurred with DS(B)/EFB and said that the ultimate objective of SUSDEV should make Hong Kong a better place to retain people and a better environment to attract experts and investment from overseas. He was of the opinion that the planning objectives of the HK 2030 study should take into account factors like education and training opportunities as these constituted part of the ultimate objective of SUSDEV.
63. In response to that Member's comments, AD(T)/PlanD said that the purpose of the HK 2030 study was to update the Territorial Development Strategy (TDS) which addressed the question of how much, what type and where new development land should be provided in Hong Kong over the next 30 years. It was not a 'Hong Kong Development Plan' and education and training issues were outside of its remit.
64. A Member hoped that HK 2030 would be a tool to draw the limits of development in the next thirty years and to give guidance to policy makers during policy formulation process. 65. In response to the Chairman's remarks, AD(T)/PlanD said that the HK 2030 study was an update of TDS and it adopted the timeframe set out by the Commission on Strategic Development. This updating exercise would incorporate the vision and policy initiatives promulgated by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address. In addition, policy inputs would be solicited from various Bureaux for incorporation into the strategy formulation process.
66. A Member felt disappointed that there was no community input before the framework of HK 2030 study was set out. To ensure that the HK 2030 planning strategy would meet the needs of the community, he said that people should be asked about their aspirations for the future of Hong Kong. AD(T)/PlanD responded that the 'Planning Objectives' were their understanding of community aspirations as gathered from the many public consultation exercises conducted by Planning Department. Nevertheless, they were still subject to public comments, which was the very aim of the first stage public consultation.
67. A Member said that as the Council was concerned about the environmental aspect, he proposed adopting "no net environmental loss" as an objective of the HK 2030 study. He said that when environmental policy was in the hands of the former Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, the Secretary came up with the idea of providing compensation for potential loss of wetlands through the planning process by artificial creation.
68. A Member commented that planning involved not only the physical perspective, it would also touch upon the socio-economic angle. He hoped that changes in various policies would be reviewed before the final stage of the HK 2030 study. DS(B)/EFB assured Members that the study was a Government-wide planning process in which public participation had been and would be involved in all steps. He re-iterated that the framework of the HK 2030 study had already incorporated public input during the consultation of the TDS and SUSDEV21. He would look to the co-operation of Bureaux to update Plan D of changes in their policies so that a better planning strategy could be made.
69. A Member wondered how public comments on Government policies could be reflected when they were only invited to comment on the planning strategy. In reply, AD(T)/PlanD said that though Plan D would not consult the public on policies of various Bureaux, people had already been making comments on planning which had implications on different policies. He said that Plan D would reflect these comments to the highest level of the Government. The Chairman said that the Social Welfare Advisory Committee under his chairmanship would consider the HK 2030 study in the welfare perspective and advise the Government in that respect and no doubt the other advisory committees would do the same.
70. A Member said that such studies often took considerable time and costs to complete but could not reflect the up-to-date situation due to rapid changes in the society. He considered it important to put in place a mechanism to avoid conflicts between different policies. In response, AD(T)/PlanD said that the HK 2030 study was a focused study on emerging factors likely to have significant impact on our future development. Many other factors which had been studied would not be repeated. Furthermore, the strategic planning framework was never intended to be rigid, but flexible and subject to review on a regular basis.
71. The Chairman thanked AD(T)/PlanD for his presentation.
Agenda Item 7 : Any Other Business
View-sharing Meeting on Future Landfill Development in Hong Kong
72. The Chairman informed Members that EPD would organize a view-sharing session on 2 March 2001 at 9:30am in Revenue Tower to present the groundwork that had been done to secure sufficient waste disposal capacity for Hong Kong's continuous development and to hear views on steps to be taken. DEP supplemented that the Administration would determine the way forward among various options of waste disposal, and welcome views from stakeholders and interested parties.
73. The Chairman reminded Members that if they would like to propose any topic for discussion, they could either inform him or the Secretariat to make arrangements.