28. A Member suggested that the Council should consider setting up a mechanism to invite experts to brief Members on specific issues such as dioxin decontamination. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman saw the merits of Mrs. Ng's suggestion and said that such advice could be sought from independent experts on a case-by-case basis. In response, the Chairman said that it was difficult to ascertain the objectivity of experts. He would rather look upon EPD as the unbiased agency to offer expert advice to the Council when required provided that the department would keep abreast of new developments in different technologies. In response, AD(EA)/EPD confirmed that EPD kept in touch with overseas counterparts and was aware of new technologies being developed in other countries.
Agenda Item 5: Inviting Expressions of Interest in Providing Integrated Waste Treatment Facility(ies)
(ACE Paper 8/2002)
29. The Chairman welcomed PAS(B)2/EFB and AD(WF)/EPD to the meeting. PAS(B)2/EFB briefed Members on the paper.
Provision of information
30. A Member said that it was highly unusual for an Expressions of Interest to provide detailed commercial and financial information as it would not be binding as in the formal tender. He queried whether such information could be relied upon in the short listing exercise. The Chairman commented that those who responded to the invitation might be reluctant to disclose detailed commercial and financial information on the proposed technology/facility. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the invitation document would set out clearly information that should be provided by interested parties for assessment purpose. Respondents would be asked to state clearly if there was any information in their submissions that should be kept confidential.
31. A Member considered that the Administration might have difficulty in verifying the financial information. Another Member suggested that the parties should be required to provide references of the proposed technologies/facilities so that the Administration could check the proposal against similar technologies/facilities in operation. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB explained that though the provision of financial information was not mandatory, such information was essential for assessing the cost-effectiveness of the proposals. The Administration was aware of the difficulties in verifying the financial information provided but would try to do so through contact with other related parties.
32. A Member was concerned that the term "integrated" would mean a combination of technologies/facilities to handle all kinds of wastes and that single treatment technology(ies) would not be welcomed. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the Expression of Interest (EoI) exercise aimed to gather information on technologies that could handle large quantities of waste, whether they were single or integrated technologies. At this early stage of technology search, it would be desirable to allow a higher degree of flexibility. AD(WF)/EPD supplemented that there were overseas examples of integrated waste facilities which comprised mechanical sorting of wastes, organic treatment, energy recovery, and recycling of residues. Different combinations of technologies and facilities would be considered.
33. A Member urged the Administration to select different companies that specialized in recycling different materials instead of just one company so as to ensure cost effectiveness. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB clarified that the EoI exercise was not limited to recycling facilities. Also, the EoI exercise was not a tender exercise and no companies would be selected for construction and operation of the facilities at the present stage. However, to ensure cost effectiveness, the economic viability of the proposals would be one of the assessment criteria.
34. In response to a Member's enquiry, PAS(B)2/EFB said that there were integrated waste treatment facilities in the Unites States, Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries. The invitation would thus be extended to the international waste management industry.
35. The Chairman urged the Administration to keep an open mind in the exercise to avoid ruling out innovative proposals.
36. A Member supported the EoI approach, as it was an effective way to gather information on the latest technologies for handling wastes.
37. A Member also supported the EoI exercise. He suggested that to encourage innovative proposals, the Administration should make it very clear that the exercise was not confined to big integrated waste treatment technologies/facilities but would also welcome non-integrated types of treatment technologies.
38. A Member suggested that the Government should provide a kick-off grant and set up a non-profit-making recycling board to co-ordinate the collection and recycling of different kinds of waste. The board should include representatives from the recycling industries. In response, DS(B)/EFB said that we could not count on any single measure to deal with the waste problem. The Government recognized that the importance of recycling and had already introduced a series of measures last year to encourage and facilitate recycling. However, we could not count on recycling alone and hence we now invited the waste management industry to offer us proposals to treat the large volume of unrecyclable waste. As regards possible collaboration with the recycling industries, DS(B)/EFB pointed out that EPD and various working groups under the Waste Reduction Committee were keeping close contact with the industry for exchange of information on the latest development of technology and for identifying areas for cooperation.
39. A Member said that from the Council's study visit to Europe last year, he noted that good technologies could not be implemented without legislative support. He suggested that the interested parties should be encouraged to propose amendments to related legislation if that could facilitate the implementation of their proposals. Echoing that Member's point, the Chairman said that in addition to legislative support, community acceptance was also crucial to the successful implementation of waste treatment proposals.
40. Noting that the estimated earliest commencement time for the selected facilities was 2012, a Member expressed concern that they might not help address the landfill problem to a significant extent. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB explained that the timetable only served as a rough indication. Upon the completion of the EoI exercise, a number of processes like public consultation, funding application, EIA, tendering, detailed design and construction of the facilities would follow and the Administration would try to shorten the time required for each process.
41. In response to a Member's enquiry, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the tendering exercise would take place after the EIA process. That Member commented that it would seem unfair to the tenderers if the selected technology/facility was patented. AD(WF)/EPD responded that a technology/facility was unlikely to be patented though a particular process or material used in a technology might be, but that would not do the tenderers any injustice.
42. SEF informed Members that when the Waste Reduction Framework Plan was released in 1998, the recommended approach was to adopt waste-to-energy as the bulk waste reduction method. However, in the light of rapid development of waste treatment technologies and the changing aspirations of the community in environmental protection, the Administration considered it appropriate to search for a suitable technology or combination of technologies that would best suit Hong Kong through the EoI exercise. She agreed that the word "integrated" might cause confusion. As regards the assessment mechanism, an Advisory Group would be set up to evaluate the submissions with assistance provided by EPD. She appreciated Members' concern about the proposed timetable but pointed out that the site selection process might take up a great deal of time given the public sentiment on the location of waste treatment facilities. That said, the timetable required adjustment and the Administration would try to expedite the whole process as far as practicable.
Landfill charging scheme
43. A Member enquired about the implementation date of the proposed landfill charging scheme and expressed concern about the difficulties in charging operators of ad-hoc renovation work. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that they would submit the proposed landfill charging scheme to the Legislative Council in the coming months. Upon Legislative Council's agreement to the proposal, the scheme could be implemented within 12 to 16 months. Regarding ad hoc renovation work, PAS(B)2/EFB pointed out that it was impossible to identify the waste producers due to the ad-hoc and diverse nature of such work. Therefore, a charge could only be levied at the landfill gate.
44. On renovation waste, a Member said that residents/waste producers had to pay for the collection and disposal of the waste even now. Hence, the waste haulers' concern of bad debts was not justified.
45. The Chairman asked whether the landfill charge of $125 per tonne was based on the value of agricultural or residential land. In reply, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the figure included only the capital and operating costs of the three landfills and no land cost had been included. The charge would amount to $205 per tonne if the value of agricultural land was included.
46. The Chairman thanked PAS(B)2/EFB and AD(WF)/EPD for the briefing and concluded that the Council fully supported the EoI exercise and the landfill charging scheme. [The Chairman handed over the chair to Prof. Lam Kin-che and left the meeting at this juncture.]
Agenda Item 6: Study on Planning for Pedestrians
(ACE Paper 11/2002)
47. The Acting Chairman welcomed CTP(SS)/PlanD, C/Townland and C2/Toweland to the meeting. CTP(SS)/PlanD introduced the Study and C/Townland gave a presentation on the details of the study.
48. A Member noted that trees were proposed as part of street furniture but pointed out that Hong Kong was short of trees. He suggested that greater emphasis should be given for the provision of trees in the proposed pedestrian planning standards and guidelines to be developed in the study.
49. The Acting Chairman enquired about the difficulties in adopting a holistic approach for pedestrian planning. In response, C/Townland said that the major difficulty was that too many agencies were involved in the process. Hence, successful pedestrian planning would hinge on the availability of a single body which had a clear mission of the objective and would coordinate the efforts of all agencies concerned. It was anticipated that the second stage of the study would come up with a more definite proposal on how pedestrian planning would be carried out.
50. A Member welcomed the study but commented that to present a full picture of the issue to the public, not only the benefits of pedestrian planning but also the trade-offs of parties concerned should be included in the consultation document. C/Townland agreed with that Member's comments and said that the possible impacts of pedestrian planning to stakeholders would be set out in the second stage of the study.
51. In response to the Acting Chairman's question, CTP(SS)/PlanD confirmed that the public and the relevant stakeholders would be consulted on the implementation in the second stage of the study.
52. A Member welcomed the study and urged Plan D to look at the subject in a broader context to include areas other than pavements. She suggested better planning and management of road repairs which were usually a source of noise and odour nuisance; better management of bus stops to minimize the impacts of emissions from idling vehicles on pedestrians; visual enhancement of refuse transfer stations and parking lots; setting up city information signposts at strategic locations; more thoughts be given to the colour scheme of pavements; and better management of urban tree planting and maintenance.
53. A Member suggested that Plan D should conduct a pilot scheme on selected sites to demonstrate the planning concept so that the public and the stakeholders could have a better understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of pedestrian planning. Another Member suggested that a task force should be set up to co-ordinate the pilot scheme.
54. In response to the first Member's question, C/Townland said that the second stage of the study was expected to be completed in November 2002.
55. The Acting Chairman asked whether the potential use of underground space had been explored in the study. In response, C/Townland said that the study had looked into that aspect and had made reference to successful cases in Japan.
56. The Acting Chairman thanked the team for the briefing and for the opportunity to comment on the study.
Agenda Item 7 : Proposed Clinical Waste Control Scheme
57. The Acting Chairman suggested and Members agreed to defer the item to the next meeting.
Agenda Item 8 : Any Other Business
Tentative items for discussion at the next meeting
58. The Acting Chairman informed the meeting that the Annual Report of the Waste Reduction Committee and a briefing by the Green Council on the operation of the Hong Kong Green Label Scheme were tentatively scheduled for discussion at the next meeting.
Agenda Item 9 : Date of Next Meeting
59. The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, 29 April 2002.