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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 88th Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 17 September 2001 at 2:30 p.m.

Present:

Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, GBS, JP (Chairman)  
Prof. Anthony HEDLEY, BBS, JP  
Mr. Edward S. T. HO, SBS, JP  
Mr. KWOK Kwok-chuen, BBS  
Prof. LAM Kin-che (EIA Subcommittee Chairman)  
Mr. Edwin C. K. LAU  
Mr. Peter Y. C. LEE, SBSt.J  
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming  
Dr. NG Cho-nam  
Mrs. Mei NG  
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP  
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH  
Ms Iris TAM  
Prof. WONG Yuk-shan, JP  
Miss Alex YAU  
Ms. Jessie WONG (Secretary)  




Absent with Apologies:
Mr. Daniel M. C. CHENG
Mr. Barrie COOK
Prof. Peter HILLS
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Prof. Dennis S. C. LAM
Dr. LEONG Che-hung, GBS, JP
Mr. Otto L. T. POON
Mr. LOH Ah Tuan



 

In Attendance:

Mrs. Stella HUNG Acting Secretary for the Environment and Food
Mr. Thomas CHOW Deputy Secretary (C), Environment and Food Bureau (EFB) (DS(C)/EFB)
Mr. Donald TONG Deputy Secretary (B), EFB (DS(B)/EFB)
Mr. Rob LAW, JP Director of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Mr. Raymond CHIU Assistant Director (Technical Services), Planning Department (AD(TS)/PlanD)
Mr. C C LAY Assistant Director (Conservation), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) (AD(Cons)/AFCD)
Mrs. Pauline LING Chief Information Officer, EFB
Ms. Polly LEUNG Principal Information Officer, Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
Miss Petula POON Chief Executive Officer (C), EFB
Ms. Cora SO Executive Officer (C), EFB



In Attendance for Agenda Item 4

Ms. Annie CHOI Principal Assistant Secretary (B)2, EFB (PAS(B)2/EFB)
Dr. Ellen CHAN Assistant Director (Waste Facilities), Environmental Protection Department (AD(WF)/EPD)



In Attendance for Agenda Item 5

Mr. KWOK Ka-keung, JP Deputy Secretary (Programme and Resources), Works Bureau (WB) (DS(PR)/WB)
Mr. CHENG Ting-ning Chief Assistant Secretary (Programme Management), WB (CAS(PM)/WB)



In Attendance for Agenda Item 6

Ms. Shirley LAM Principal Assistant Secretary, Transport Bureau (PAS/TB)
Mr. T K LEE Chief Engineer, Highways Department (HyD) (CE/HyD)
Mr. C K LIN Senior Engineer, HyD
Mr. Tony SO Chief Engineer, Planning Br. Transport Department
Mr. Patrick LAI Senior Nature Conservation Officer, AFCD (SNCO/AFCD)
Mr. Eric CHAN Associate Director, Ove Arup & Partners (AD/OAP)
Mr. Alan KWOK Managing Director, Environmental Management Ltd (MD/EML)

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The Chairman welcomed Mrs. Mei Ng to the meeting. Mrs. Ng took over from Mr. Plato Yip and was newly appointed as a member of the Council.

Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 87th Meeting held on 27 August 2001

2. Members confirmed the minutes subject to the amendments proposed by two Members.

Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising

Para. 6: Meeting with Sir Crispin Tickell

 

3. Members noted that the Secretariat had sent a letter to the Hong Kong British Consulate General to explore the possibility of arranging an informal meeting with Sir Crispin if he stopped over Hong Kong before or after his visit to the Mainland in October.

(Post meeting note : The Hong Kong British Consulate General has replied that, due to the tight schedule of the visit to the Mainland, Sir Crispin would not stop over in Hong Kong.)

Para. 54: Public Consultation on Amendments to Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance

4. The Chairman referred to a Member's letter of 27 August 2001 which appealed for Members' support for the Government's proposed smoke-free policies in all indoor workplaces, and suggested that the Secretariat should write to the Health and Welfare Bureau (HWB) on behalf of the Council to indicate full support for the proposals. Members agreed.

(Post meeting notes : On behalf of the Council, Ms Jessie Wong, the Secretary, sent a letter to the Tobacco Control Consultation Task Force of HWB on 19 September 2001 to indicate the Council's full support for its proposals.)

Para. 55: Meeting with LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs


Secretariat

5. The Chairman informed Members that the convener of the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs had yet to be elected. The Secretariat would liaise with the Clerk to the Panel on the proposed meeting and would keep Members informed of the progress.

Simultaneous Interpretation Service at Council Meetings

6. The Chairman referred to a Member's enquiry as to whether he could speak in Cantonese and advised Members that the Secretariat could arrange simultaneous interpretation service upon Members' request in advance of meetings. As far as discussion/information papers were concerned, it was agreed that the current practice of producing papers in English only should continue so as to save time for translation.

Agenda Item 3 : Report of the 62nd EIA Subcommittee Meeting
(ACE Paper 35/2001)

Implementation of Drainage Improvement Works for Ping Yuen River

7. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman briefed Members on the Subcommittee's views and recommendations on the design of rehabilitation works for Ping Yuen River. He pointed out that it was not an EIA submission and that the Subcommittee had taken note of the design of the rehabilitation works. The project proponent had undertaken to submit a further paper to the Subcommittee on the management plan for abandoned meanders. Members noted the paper.

Comprehensive Feasibility Study on the Revised Scheme of South East Kowloon Development

8. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman briefed Members on the Subcommittee's views and recommendations on the EIA report of Comprehensive Feasibility Study on the Revised Scheme of South East Kowloon Development. He reported that the Subcommittee recommended the endorsement of the EIA report without conditions but suggested relocation of the planned schools away from trunk roads as far as possible. He also informed the Council that a Member of the Subcommittee supported the report with reservation.

9. A Member reckoned that the notion of making SEKD a fossil-fuel free zone should be limited to public transport only and that no restrictions would be imposed on other vehicles. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman confirmed that Member's observation and said that the intention of the project proponent was to encourage the use of public transport in the SEKD area.


Secretariat

10. A Member questioned the need for providing vehicular ferry service for dangerous goods vehicles. He asked whether roads/tunnels could be used instead. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that the same question was raised at the Subcommittee meeting. The project proponent said that the ferry service was a replacement for the existing service which was necessary for the transportation of certain categories of dangerous goods. The Chairman suggested requesting the project proponent to provide more detailed information on the need for such ferry service.

11. A Member drew Members' attention to the fact that the overseas clean up projects on which the effectiveness of the method of cleaning up contaminated sediments was assessed were implemented in remote locations. Unlike those locations, the areas concerned in SEKD were close to residential area. She therefore urged the Council to closely monitor the outcome of the pilot test on treatment methods. The Chairman cautioned that the Council should not take on any monitoring responsibility as that should be the duty of the Administration. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman informed the meeting that the project proponent had undertaken to submit a report on the pilot test results to the Subcommittee for reference. Upon receiving the report, the Subcommittee could then suggest the frequency of future submission of monitoring reports.

12. A Member said that he had lodged an objection to the draft Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) on SEKD during the consultation period. He asked if endorsing the EIA report of the project would have any implication on the OZP. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that the remit of the Council was to comment on the EIA report from an environmental protection angle. He saw no conflict between the two.

13. The Chairman proposed and Members agreed to endorse the EIA report as in line with the Subcommittee's recommendation.

Proposed Headquarters & Bus Maintenance Depot at Chai Wan

14. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman reported the views of the Subcommittee and its recommendation to endorse the EIA report on the condition that the monitoring on construction noise should be increased from once a week to once every three days.


TDD

15. A Member suggested that, apart from using quieter vehicle engines and restricting bus routes, the project proponent should erect noise barriers to further reduce the traffic noise impact. The Chairman said that the Council had discussed the lack of provisions in existing ordinances to abate traffic noise exceedances. The Administration had already implemented an on-going scheme to address noise impacts of existing roads. He asked the Secretariat to provide a copy of the past ACE paper on the subject for that Member's reference.(Post-meeting notes : ACE Paper 39/2000 on Measures to Address Noise Impact of Existing Roads was sent to that Member on 28 September 2001)

16. A Member said that the traffic volume in Hong Kong was already at an alarming level. Endorsing another bus depot facility would be indirectly encouraging more buses on the road. He therefore asked whether it would be possible for the Citybus to share KMB's depots in nearby area. In response, the Chairman said that the need for the depot was outside the remit of the Council and endorsing the EIA report did not imply that the Council accepted the need for the project. He personally felt that it was difficult for the two bus companies to share depot facilities. However, he appreciated Mr. Lau's concern and said that it might be useful to line up a meeting with the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) to express the Council's views on traffic volume in future.

17. In response to that Member's follow- up question, The EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that the project proponent had already obtained land for the depot.

18. A Member informed the meeting that being also a member of TAC, he was aware that the Council and TAC considered transport projects in different perspectives. TAC would assess transport projects in the context of meeting public demand for transportation without causing congestion. Environmental impact was apparently not TAC's major concern.

19. The Chairman proposed and Members agreed to endorse the EIA report with the condition recommended by the Subcommittee.

Agenda Item 4 : Promoting Prevention and Recovery of Domestic Waste
(ACE Paper 36/2001)

20. The Chairman welcomed PAS(B)2/EFB and AD(WF)/EPD to the meeting. PAS(B)2/EFB briefed Members on the Government's initiatives to further promote prevention and recovery of domestic waste. 21. The Chairman asked, on behalf of two Members, about the timeframe of the landfill charging scheme and whether the Administration would consider offering employment subsidy to workers engaged in waste recovery and recycling operations so as to alleviate the unemployment situation as well as to make the industry more commercially viable.

22. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that as stated in paragraph 24 of the paper, the Administration had been consulting the relevant trades on landfill charging and would consult the Council on the details of the proposed scheme probably within the year. As regards subsidy to the trade, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the objective of the initiatives was to promote prevention and recovery of domestic waste rather than to create job opportunities. That said, she envisaged that some of the measures would help create jobs. For example, the processing of the increased amount of waste collected might demand a bigger workforce in the industry.

23. The Chairman recalled that last year there were news reports about dumping at landfills of waste that had been collected for recycling. He asked how the Administration would ensure that the waste collected would be recycled. In reply, PAS(B)2/EFB said that for recovery of papers, plastics and aluminium cans, contractors concerned were required to provide documentary proofs that the waste collected had been properly transferred to recyclers. In addition, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department would conduct spot checks on contractors. Proponents of projects funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) would also be required to provide similar proofs. On the alleged dumping of waste collected, PAS(B)2/EFB clarified that there was no evidence for large-scale dumping of separated waste which was intended for recycling. If there were such cases, EPD staff manning the landfill gates would have spotted on site. The Chairman suggested that the allegations be clarified.

24. A Member cautioned that to avoid dumping of recyclables collected, the Government should ensure that there were sufficient outlets for those materials, particularly as the amount collected was expected to increase. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB confirmed that the waste recycling/processing industries had spare capacities to handle 20% to 30% more waste using its existing workforce.

25. Pointing out that projects supported by the ECF were mainly research projects, a Member asked whether there were guidelines for ECF to give more weight to waste prevention and recovery programmes. Another Member shared the same concern and suggested that ECF should make clear statements in this regard so as to attract potential applicants. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB clarified that the ECF would support both research and educational/community involvement projects. In fact, a larger proportion had been spent on educational and community involvement projects in the past few years. The Administration would discuss with the ECF Committee on the means to ensure that the $100 million could be used largely for waste prevention/recovery programmes in the coming years.

26. On the point of government leadership, a Member suggested reminding the Town Planning Board Secretariat to reduce paper consumption as a considerable quantity of bulky reports was often re-issued to Board members when discussion of any item was postponed to subsequent meetings.

(Post meeting note : The Town Planning Board Secretariat had in fact carried out a review of the paper consumption problem last year. Apart from asking Members to leave behind the reports on cases of deferment, the Secretariat will collect the reports on all rejected s.16 applications and objections not upheld and save them for future meetings/reviews/objection hearings. This will reduce the number of reports required from applicants/objectors. Nevertheless, the Secretariat will further review the practice to see if further improvement can be made.)

27. A Member was concerned that neither the Council nor the Waste Reduction Committee (WRC) were informed of the package of initiatives before the Government announced it in public. She also considered it more appropriate for the WRC to vet and approve applications for ECF because many community groups were concerned that the Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC) might get the bulk of the Fund. In addition, she suggested maximizing the use of refuse transfer stations by allowing temporary storage of recyclables therein during non-operation hours. Finally, she believed that Government's efforts should focus on waste reduction at source rather than exploring for more landfills.

28. In response to that Member' s first question, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the initiatives had mostly arisen from past discussions at the ACE and WRC. The Bureau had issued letters to members of the two organizations briefing them on the details of the package on the same day of the announcement. As regards allocation of ECF, PAS(B)2/EFB assured the meeting that each funding application would be considered on its own merits. As the ECC was responsible for organizing territory wide campaigns, it would unlikely be involved in community-based waste recycling projects. Instead, it would assist the ECF Committee in vetting funding applications and monitoring the progress of funded projects. In the past few months, a number of such community projects, including some from green groups, had been funded.

29. As for refuse transfer stations, PAS(B)2/EFB said that most of the stations operated throughout the day. Nonetheless, where space was available, EPD would examine the feasibility of utilizing the space for waste recovery purpose. To facilitate waste separation and recovery, FEHD had placed waste separation bins in 40 refuse collection points, and would increase the number to 130 in the next few months. PAS(B)2/EFB agreed that the top priority should be waste reduction at source. However, given the fact that the capacity of the existing landfills would run out in 10 to 15 years' time and that there were always non-recyclable waste and it would take about 10 years to build a landfill, the Government had to plan ahead and start identifying possible sites for landfills.

30. A Member said that, partly due to high land costs, the cost of waste recycling in Hong Kong was high. He asked whether the Government had considered co-operating with the Mainland on waste recycling. PAS(B)2/EFB replied that the Administration had close liaison with the Mainland authorities At present, primary processing of the recyclables collected was mostly carried out in Hong Kong. However, the re-manufacturing process was normally carried out in the Mainland.

31. A Member asked whether the Basel Convention restricted Hong Kong from exporting batteries to developing countries where there should be markets for such materials. AD(WF)/EPD said that batteries were classified as chemical waste and according to the Basel Convention, they could only be processed by qualified recycling plants. At the moment there was no such plant in developing countries. In the meantime, the Government was trying to promote the recycling of mobile phone batteries and had initially obtained co-operation from mobile phone manufacturers. It was hoped that there would be some progress in batteries recycling early next year.

32. The Chairman considered that Hong Kong would be in a better position to co-operate with the Mainland if the recyclables could be reused as raw materials. He also suggested that the Government should consider subsidizing export of recyclables by savings in landfill costs.

33. A Member commended the Government's initiatives, in particular in developing procurement guidelines that would encourage waste prevention and recycling. However, he reckoned that there was still room for the use of subsidy as economic instruments. He looked forward to the implementation of the landfill charging scheme because one third of the waste disposed of every year came from construction and demolition projects. He suggested that the Council should impress upon the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs on the need and urgency of the landfill-charging scheme when Members met them later.

34. In response to that Member's comments, PAS(B)2/EFB said that direct subsidy might not be conducive to the long-term growth of the recycling industry. Nevertheless, the new measures in encouraging and facilitating recycling should bring about business opportunities for the industry. The availability of both long-term and short-term land should also help foster the development of the industry.

35. A Member said according to her discussion with two recycling operators, what they needed the most was temporary storage space near their factories. The proposed Recovery Park in Tuen Mun Area 38 would be too far away for them and would increase the operating costs. They were also concerned about berthing charges and would like the Government to consider providing convenient barging facilities. 36. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that apart from the proposed Recovery Park, the Government would continue to provide short-term tenancy sites to waste collectors. As regards barging facilities, the Recovery Park would have sea frontage and could thus provide berthing facilities solely for the use of the recycling industry.

37. A Member pointed out that the decrease in the price of waste papers, wooden chips and paper pulp had discouraged the development of paper recycling trade in Hong Kong. Another Member said that the Tsing Yi Chemical Waste Treatment Plant was already a precedent case of Government providing direct subsidy to waste treatment operators.

38. In response to Members' comments, AD(WF)/EPD said that the Government had established very close contacts with waste collectors and was fully aware of the operation and the difficulties encountered by the industry. On the previous Member's point, AD(WF)/EPD said that the price of papers fluctuated in the world market. Many imported waste papers were recycled in Asia. Since the recycling market in Hong Kong was relatively small, competition with Asian recycling operators was unavoidable.

39. The Chairman concluded that the initiatives were well received and were a big step towards the right direction in reducing waste. The Council fully supported the Government's new initiatives and urged for early introduction of landfill charging. He suggested that Members pass their further comments, if any, to the Secretariat for onward submission to the Bureau.

Agenda Item 5 : Revised Administrative Procedures on the Statutory Gazetting of Public Works Projects
(ACE Paper 38/2001)

40. The Chairman welcomed DS(PR)/WB and CAS(PM)/WB to the meeting. DS(PR)/WB briefed Members on the revised procedures.

41. The Chairman said that a Member had indicated his support for the new procedures as long as works would not commence before the EIAO process was duly completed with the EIA report approved and the required environmental permit issued.

42. A Member said that based on his experience, only a very small percentage of EIA reports submitted for ACE's consideration were controversial, and for those few cases, the problem often laid with inadequate consideration of alternative alignments/options. He said that the disadvantage of gazetting a project in parallel with EIA process was that project proponents might become reluctant to revise the project at a later stage even if the results of the EIA were unsatisfactory. He therefore suggested that project proponents should consider briefing the EIA Subcommittee on alternative alignments/options before conducting the EIA study so that views of the Subcommittee could be taken into account before they invested too much time and resources into an alternative.

43. DS(PR)/WB said that the purpose of the revised procedures was to speed up the public works programme. When informing works departments of the new procedures, his Bureau would state clearly that the departments would need to revise their project and re-gazette it if such changes were considered necessary as a result of the EIA process. As suggested by Members, they would encourage works departments to seek views from the Council as early as possible.

44. A Member suggested that, since there was likelihood that a gazetted project would be revised subsequently to gazetting, public works projects should be divided into categories and only those which were unlikely to be amended should be allowed for earlier gazettal. DS(PR)/WB assured Members that project proponents would adopt the revised procedures only if there was such a need and would do so only after due consideration including the risk of re-gazetting.

45. A Member said that some issues of concern were often not identified during preliminary assessment. He therefore considered it imprudent to gazette public works projects in parallel with the EIA process. DS(PR)/WB said that at the early project inception stage, there were already plenty of opportunities for identifying issues for the EIA study. He emphasized that normally parallel gazettal was only expected to be made when the EIA study was in progress by which time major environmental concerns should have been identified.

46. A Member proposed that a list of projects to be gazetted in advance of completion of EIA study be made available to the Council so that Members would have an opportunity to identify potential problems. The Chairman, however, disagreed and said that the onus should be on the project proponent to sound out the Council of any potential problems rather than the Council taking the lead.

47. A Member welcomed the revised procedures which would expedite the public works programme and indirectly enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong. Notwithstanding that, he felt that there was still room to further shorten the lead-time for completion of public works projects. DS(PR)/WB said that Works Bureau had introduced various measures over the years to streamline the procedures and had reduced the pre-construction lead-time from six to four years. They would continue to adopt measures to expedite public works projects without undermining the integrity of the EIA process.

48. In response to a Member's question on how EPD could help to speed up the EIA process, DEP said that the EIA process was not considered long compared to the whole timeframe of a public works project. Most parts of the EIA process were already carried out in parallel with other procedures. The EIA Ordinance stipulated time limits for public consultation of the project profile and EIA report of a designated project, and for the Authority to respond and take further steps. He was unwilling to cut short the consultation period. Instead, the department had been endeavoring to respond before the statutory time limit but sometimes it took time to consult AFCD and other relevant parties. EPD had been exploring whether the Authority could participate at an earlier stage, say before the statutory EIA process began, and hence prevent project proponents from proceeding with projects where there were unresolved environmental impacts. However, he noted that the most controversial issue was usually in relation to the ecological impact of a project which was very difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. He believed that the situation would improve when a more systematic ecological database of Hong Kong was available. In a nutshell, he considered that enhanced communication between EPD, AFCD and works departments in the early planning stages would help speed up the EIA process.

49. A Member said that since the implementation of the EIA Ordinance in 1998, the average consultation time with ACE was 47 days out of the 60-day statutory limit. He agreed with DEP that the earlier the dialogue between relevant parties, the greater the possibility of working out solutions for problems identified.

50. A Member echoed the points made by DEP and another Member. She considered that until a comprehensive conservation policy was in place, the safest way to protect the environment from incompatible development was to examine the project in detail and plug every gap of uncertainty therein. This might mean lodging objections to gazettes that could only be resolved after completion of the EIA process. She remained skeptical of a shortened process, and therefore had reservations on the proposed revisions.

51. A Member said that there were cases where the EIA process was lengthened due to the lack of information provided. Project proponents could help speed up the process by presenting EIA reports holistically, in particular by including the cumulative impacts of other projects in the vicinity. She asked who would decide which projects could be gazetted in parallel with the EIA process and whether criteria would be set for making such decisions.

52. A Member said that Works Bureau/works departments should be responsible for deciding which project could adopt the revised procedures. He did not think that the ACE should give comments on projects before the submission of EIA reports because that would give the impression that ACE supported certain projects when the EIA study had yet to complete. He reckoned that the EIA Ordinance had sufficient safeguards to prevent problematic projects from proceeding as works of a designated project could not start without a valid environmental permit.

53. In reply to Members' comments, DS(PR)/WB said that they would urge works departments to work closely with EPD and AFCD during the project inception stage and throughout the process to identify and address environmental concerns as early as possible. He said that Works Bureau would ensure that projects impinging upon environmentally sensitive areas would be handled very carefully.

54. A Member said that although he accepted what DS(PR)/WB presented at the meeting, he had reservation on the paper. There was nothing in writing of the points made by him at the meeting. DS(C)/EFB said that what DS(PR)/WB said at the meeting would be properly recorded in the minutes. Works Bureau had made an undertaking that works departments would take into account comments from EPD and AFCD and consider very carefully whether to opt for early gazettal. They would consider carefully if early gazettal would shorten the pre-construction lead time or whether it would likely be counter-productive if the likelihood of subsequent revisions were high. He suggested that Works Bureau should revise the relevant Technical Circular to encourage works departments to brief the ACE on initial EIA findings as and when appropriate. DS(PR)/WB agreed.

55. The Chairman concluded that the Council agreed with the revised administrative procedures and urged project proponents to keep EPD, AFCD and the Council informed of issues deserving their attention at early stages. Two Members registered their reservation on the revised procedures.

Agenda Item 6 : Shenzhen Western Corridor and Deep Bay Link
(ACE Paper 37/2001)

56. The Chairman welcomed PAS/TB and her team to the meeting. PAS/TB introduced the background of the proposed new boundary crossing followed by a detailed presentation of the proposed alignment of the crossing and link roads by AD/OAP.

57. The Chairman suggested that Transport Bureau (TB) should arrange a visit for Members to study the sites involved in the project so that Members could gain a better understanding about the project and the environmental issues concerned. PAS/TB agreed.

[The Chairman handed over the chair to Prof. Lam Kin-che (the Acting Chairman) and left the meeting at this juncture due to other commitments.]

58. The Acting Chairman recalled that when the paper on cross border link was submitted to the EIA Subcommittee a few years ago, the project proponent said that the EIA of the project would be conducted in two phases, the first being the study on alignments and options. He noted that the findings of that study were not included in the paper and asked if TB could provide such details to Members.


Secretariat

59. PAS/TB agreed. She said that the preliminary design for Deep Bay Link (DBL) had already started whereas consultants had just been commissioned for the preliminary design of the Shenzhen Western Corridor (SWC).

60. A Member considered the timetable for the project too optimistic. For instance, the gazettal of the project was planned for 2002 while the EIA study had not yet been completed. He agreed with the Acting Chairman that more information on alternative alignment/options and their pros and cons would be required to convince Members that the proposed alignment/option was the best choice. He was particularly concerned as to why the tunnel option was abandoned because the proposed option would have adverse impact on mangroves and mudflats.

61. A Member appreciated the Government's objective to relieve traffic congestion at the borders and at the same time assist the economic development of the two sides. However, he queried why the proposed link was connected to Shekou via ecologically sensitive areas instead of to Shenzhen.

62. PAS/TB explained that the link was connected to Shekou at the request of Shenzhen for mainly two reasons. The first was that the three existing cross border links were all connected to the heart of the Shenzhen city where there was no capacity to cope with further increase in traffic volume. Secondly, because of economic development within the Pearl River Delta Region, more and more traffic was estimated to head towards the direction of Shekou.

63. A Member asked whether there were agreed standards for EIA studies of joint Mainland and Hong Kong projects. On road links, she also asked how the Administration would encourage drivers to use Route 3 instead of Tuen Mun Highway which was toll-free. Thirdly, she asked whether there would be any measures to step up enforcement of preventing vehicles using illegal diesel from entering Hong Kong.

64. PAS/TB said that Hong Kong and Shenzhen had their own environmental legislation and neither party had jurisdiction over the other. However, a joint working group had been set up to oversee the SWC project from planning to implementation and the cumulative impacts on the whole Deep Bay area would be examined in the EIA study. In response to a Member's question on road usage, PAS/TB said that the Administration would review the management of strategic roads on a regular basis taking into account updated planning parameters. On EIA standards, MD/EML clarified that the EIA study would adopt the appropriate Hong Kong standards for Hong Kong's sensitive receivers and Mainland standards for Mainland's sensitive receivers within the assessment area.

65. In response to a Member's question on the illegal use of Mainland diesel in local vehicles, DS(C)/EFB said that at present there were limits on the amount of diesel carried by vehicles crossing the border into Hong Kong. The Customs & Excise Department had set up checkpoints to inspect vehicles before they crossed the border. Such measure should continue to be applied to the proposed new border link.

66. Noting that an area near Shekou would be reclaimed, a Member expressed concern that it might trigger further reclamation along the coastline. The Acting Chairman asked whether the proponent would assess the cumulative impact arising from the reclamation and its impact on water quality. PAS/TB responded that the impact of reclamation would be included in the assessment conducted by the Shenzhen side. MD/EML supplemented that the consultants would use "Del-3" model which had been adopted in the study for the Deep Bay area in assessing water quality. He also confirmed that the cumulative impact of reclamation would be assessed in the EIA Study.

67. A Member queried why it was necessary to reclaim such a big area in Shekou to build just the immigration/custom checkpoints. He also suggested implementing measures to enhance the visual impact alongside the bridge. The proponent could plant mangroves on both sides of the bridge to make it a landmark for attracting tourists

68. PAS/TB said that the reclamation area shown in Annex B of the paper was for illustration purpose only. The exact size and location had yet to be determined. She thanked Prof. Wong for his suggestion and would take that into account during the design stage.

69. A Member expressed grave concern about the impact of the projects on the ecology of Mai Po and Deep Bay. She said that the channelization of the Shenzhen River had already altered the hydrology of mudflats in those areas and she demanded full justifications for adopting a road-based link.

70. PAS/TB responded that a road-based link was more appropriate because the target users of the link would be container vehicles and lorries. A railway link would increase the transportation costs in loading and unloading goods between vehicles and the train. MD/EML supplemented that as far as the ecology of Deep Bay was concerned, the consultants would pay particular attention to the impacts on intertidal mudflats which were feeding grounds for birds. Two main impacts were anticipated, namely the removal of mudflats to make room for pile structure of the bridge and changes in water movement due to the pile structure.

71. In response to a Member's follow-up question on the rate of the sedimentation due to the construction of bridge foundation, MD/EML said that sediment movements would also be included in the study model. 72. In reply to a Member's question on road usage, PAS/TB said that the users of the link would go via SWC and DBL to Yuen Long Highway where they could proceed to the container terminals either through Route 3 or Route 9.

73. The Acting Chairman thanked TB for consulting the Council in an early stage and hoped that they would take into account Members' concerns regarding the joint environmental monitoring programme between Mainland and Hong Kong, the scale of reclamation in Shekou, the visual design of the bridge, and the overall ecological well-being of Deep Bay. He was pleased that a site visit would be arranged for their better understanding of the project and requested TB to provide information about the preliminary assessment of the alternative alignments/options of the project as early as possible.

Agenda Item 7 : Any Other Business

Tentative items for discussion at the next meeting

74. Members noted that a paper on tightening of noise emission standards for new vehicles would be submitted for discussion at the next meeting, and the Bureau would add more agenda items in due course. Agenda Item 8 : Date of Next Meeting75. The Chairman said that the next meeting would be held on Monday, 29 October 2001 as scheduled.

ACE Secretariat
September 2001


TB


 

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