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Advisory Council on the Environment

Administrative Matters for the Advisory Council on the Environment

(ACE Paper 1/2001)
For discussion

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to invite Members to consider the following -

  1. the proposed schedule of meetings in 2001;
     
  2. the establishment of one or two Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittees; and
  3. overseas visits.

Schedule of meetings in 2001

2. The proposed schedule of meetings in 2001 is at Annex A. The schedule is drawn up on the basis of existing practice that meetings will be held on the last Monday afternoon of each month and the need to avoid clashes with major holidays and known commitments.

Establishment of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Subcommittee(s)

3. The Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) has a statutory responsibility under the EIA Ordinance (Cap. 499) to advise the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) on EIA reports for designated projects. The EIA Subcommittee is established under the ACE to study EIA reports and report findings to the ACE. The terms of reference, composition and modus operandi of the EIA Subcommittee is at Annex B.

4. The EIA Subcommittee reviewed the modus operandi of its work in September 2000 and made recommendations to the ACE. At its 78th meeting on 19 September 2000, the ACE considered these recommendations including two proposed options to relieve the heavy workload of the EIA Subcommittee, namely to invite more Council Members to join the Subcommittee; or to set up two EIA Subcommittees with one or two Chairmen. A brief summary on the latter proposal is at Annex C. No decision has been made yet on this.

5. Members are invited to decide whether one or two EIA Subcommittees should be established having taken into account the recommendations of the EIA Subcommittee made last year. In the event that only one Subcommittee is established, Members might wish to consider identifying a Member to chair the Subcommittee meetings should the Subcommittee Chairman be unable to do so. This would help streamline the operation of the EIA Subcommittee and ensure that the ACE could tender its important advice on EIA reports to the DEP within the tight timetable as set out in the EIA Ordinance.

6. The Administration does not have any particular views on whether one or two EIA Subcommittees should be formed. The ACE secretariat would, however, continue to provide the necessary support to facilitate the smooth operation of the EIA Subcommittee(s).

Allocation for overseas visits in 2001-02

7. During the review of the work of the EIA Subcommittee, the Administration was asked to consider providing funding for Members to conduct overseas trips as experience and knowledge gained on environmental facilities and issues would help them better serve the ACE. Having reviewed Members' suggestion and financial resources allocated to the Environment and Food Bureau (EFB), a sum of up to $200,000 has been identified that could be made available for the ACE to undertake overseas visits in financial year 2001/2002.

8. This $200,000 allocation may be used to cover airfares, hotel accommodation, ground transportation overseas, and if necessary, official entertainment with interlocutors. The expenses will be subject to the usual Government regulations relating to overseas duty visits. Members taking part in the visits would have to absorb all the additional expenses incurred in the visits in case the total allocation is exhausted. We would propose to make this sum available but leave to ACE to decide whether it wished to make any visit, how many members would go, and how the sum could best be allocated to the permitted uses.

9. The EFB would make recommendations on proposed visit programmes for Members to consider, and assist in making arrangements for the visits. Given the main areas of business that we expect to bring to the Council for advice over the coming couple of years, we recommend that priority should be given to places that have developed advanced sewerage and waste treatment facilities in the context of increasing public demand and space constraints. While nowhere else in the world faces similar space constraints and population densities as Hong Kong, a number of cities in Europe offer useful comparisons. Travel between them is convenient, and opportunity could probably be found to look at nature conservation programmes in and around urban environments as well. Subject to Members' views, we propose to draw up an outline programme for a seven-day visit to European cities for further consideration.

10. Separately, we are still awaiting a response from the Macau Special Administrative Government on proposed dates for a visit by Members to Macau. We will keep Members informed.

Advise sought

11. Members are invited -

  1. to endorse the proposed schedule of meetings in 2001 at Annex A;
     
  2. to decide on whether one or two EIA Subcommittees should be established and on their membership, including the chairman;
     
  3. should there be one EIA Subcommittee, to identify a Member to chair Subcommittee meetings in case the Chairman could not perform his/her duties;
     
  4. to note the maximum allocation of $200,000 for overseas visits in 2001-02 for ACE; and
     
  5. to advise on whether the ACE accepts in principle a trip to Europe focused on sewerage and waste treatment facilities.

ACE Secretariat
February 2001








 

Annex A

Advisory Council on the Environment Schedule of Meetings in 2001 (All starts at 2:30pm)

27 February (Tuesday)

26 March (Monday)

23 April (Monday)

28 May (Monday)

18 June (Monday)

23 July (Monday)

27 August (Monday)

17 September (Monday)

29 October (Monday)

26 November (Monday)

17 December (Monday)






 

Annex B
 

EIA Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on the Environment

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference of the EIA Subcommittee of the ACE are as follows-

  1. to receive and study EIA reports of major development projects; and
     
  2. to provide reports on its deliberations and findings and make recommendations to the ACE.

Membership

2. In the 2000 session, nine ACE Members volunteered to join the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee could not co-opt outsiders.

EIA Subcommittee Meetings

3. The EIA Subcommittee meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of every month, and makes its recommendations to the ACE for consideration at meetings which are normally held at the last Monday of the same month. The Subcommittee normally considers no more than three EIA reports in each meeting.

4. EIA reports are issued to the Subcommittee three Fridays before the scheduled meeting date. To facilitate Subcommittee's deliberation on the EIA reports, EPD prepares papers highlighting the salient points on the EIA studies. One week before the scheduled meeting date, Members will be asked to indicate whether it is necessary for the proponent of the project concerned to make a presentation to the Subcommittee and discuss the report with them.

5. If a presentation is required, the project proponent will attend the scheduled meeting and present to the Subcommittee the major conclusions and recommendations of the EIAs, to be followed by a Question-and-Answer session. A paper on the recommendations of the Subcommittee is then submitted to the ensuing meeting of the ACE for consideration.

6. In 1998, 1999 and 2000, the Subcommittee held 6, 11 and 11 meetings respectively.


 

Annex C

A summary of the former EIA Subcommittee's proposal to set up two EIA Subcommittees

One of the proposals of the former EIA Subcommittee to relieve the workload of the subcommittee is to set up two EIA Subcommittees. Under this proposal, one core group and one floating group would be formed under the ACE. All ACE Members would be invited to take part in the Subcommittee work by joining either the core group or the floating group. The core group plus half of the floating group would form one Subcommittee while the core group plus the other half of the floating group would form another Subcommittee.

2. The Subcommittees would meet once each month on an alternate basis. Members of the core group would take part in all meetings of the two Subcommittees i.e. they attend Subcommittee meetings on a monthly basis. Members of the floating group would take part in Subcommittee work on a bi-monthly basis except where in special circumstances that there are two Subcommittee meetings in a month.

3. This proposal would increase the size of the EIA Subcommittee and provide a mechanism to share out the workload. Furthermore, all Council Members would play a greater role in the EIA process which is crucial to the work of the Council.

 

 

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