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Advisory Council on the Environment

Report of the 45th Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee Meeting

(ACE Paper 25/99)
for advice

INTRODUCTION

At its meeting of 5 July 1999, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Subcommittee considered and endorsed the EIA Report of Main Drainage Channels and Poldered Village Protection Scheme for San Tin, NWNT and commented on the EIA Study for Lantau North-South Road Link between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo. The Subcommittee also endorsed by circulation before the meeting the Environmental Study Report of Improvement to Kam Tin Road, Stage 2 and the EIA Report of Essential Public Infrastructure Works - Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun Centre.

ADVICE SOUGHT

2.Members are requested to advise whether the three reports mentioned above should be endorsed and consider the comments on the remaining one.

VIEWS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE

Main Drainage Channels and Poldered Village Protection Scheme for San Tin, NWNT
(ACE EIA Paper 12/99)

3.San Tin is an area of recurrent flood. The need for the Main Drainage Channels and Poldered Village Protection Scheme for San Tin (the Project) was established in the Territorial Land Drainage and Flood Control Strategy Study, Phase 2 completed by DSD in 1993. The Project will protect the San Tin Basin from recurrent flooding, with reduced threat of flood hazards, economic loss and disruption.

4.The proposed San Tin MDC is a designated project under Item I. 1(b)(vii) and ItemQ.1, Part 1 Schedule 2 of the EIA Ordinance, i.e. "a drainage channel discharge into an area which is less than 300m from the nearest boundary of an existing conservation area" and "earthworks, dredging works and other building works partly or wholly in an existing conservation area".

5.The anticipated habitat losses due to the Eastern MDC and the Poldered Village Protection Scheme include the following:

i) loss of approximately 9ha of moderate-high value wetland (fish ponds);
ii) loss of approximately 6ha of low-moderate to moderate value wetland habitats (marsh, stream and vegetated nullah); and
iii) loss of approximately 2.7ha of low value dry habitats.

6.To mitigate the anticipated wetland losses and ecological impacts, the EIA report recommended the following mitigation measures:

i) creation of 11.3ha of moderate-high value wetland (flood storage pond, tidal channel, constructed wetlands and grasscrete lined bottom of Eastern MDC;
ii) creation of 4.7ha of moderate value dry habitats (grasscrete banks and planted embankments of Eastern MDC);
iii) provision of 0.2ha of low value wetland (Tsing Lung Tsuen drainage channel); and
iv) 2 ha of grassy area on the banks of village polders at San Tin and Chau Tau villages.

7.With all the proposed ecological mitigation measures in place, the residual ecological impacts will be controlled to an acceptable level.

Views and Recommendations of EIA Subcommittee's Members

8.Members discussed the report at the meeting. Queries mainly focussed on the wetland mitigation measures and the potential disturbance to the wetland area.

9.The project proponent undertook that in order to enhance the value of the habitats to be provided as one of the ecological mitigation measures, they would liaise with the Architecture Services Department (ASD) in detailed design stage to see if it was possible to integrate the proposed mitigating wetland with the reedbed constructed by ASD.

10.The project proponent also clarified that they had already maximized the compensatory wetland provision for the project, taking into account the hydraulic and site constraints. Large areas of compensatory egretry plantation would be provided due to its decreasingly availability in the territory.

11.To avoid disturbance to the mitigating wetland, the project proponent agreed to limit the use of the side-ways connected to the access road on the western embankment of the channel to the minimal.

12.The Subcommittee agreed to recommend to the main Council to endorse the report on the condition that the project proponent would liaise and negotiate with ASD on the integration of mitigating wetland as well as minimize the disturbance to the wetland by limiting the use of the side-ways leading to the access road.

Improvement to Kam Tin Road, Stage 2
(ACE EIA Papers 13/99)

13.Kam Tin Road is presently a single 2-lane carriageway with narrow footpaths. With the rapid development of the North West New Territories area, the Kam Tin Road is approaching capacity. The need for the widening of Kam Tin Road was identified in the North West New Territories Statement Study in 1994. The EIA report for the Improvement to Kam Tin Road Stage 1 was endorsed by the ACE without conditions in December 1996. The project is not a designated project under the EIA Ordinance but under a government technical circular issued in October 1998, the proponent is still required to address the environmental implications of the project.

14.The Study concluded that with mitigation measures, environmental impacts during the construction phase would be within the established guidelines and standards. Mitigation measures have been recommended to further reduce the anticipated construction environmental impacts, to limit the loss of localised tree areas and provide landscaping opportunities. A package of direct noise mitigation measures has been developed to ensure operational phase noise impacts can be controlled within established standards and guidelines. However, upon exhaust of the above direct noise mitigation measures, residual road traffic noise impacts are predicted to affect approximately 111 village houses. These households would be eligible for indirect technical remedies in the form of window insulation and air-conditioning, subject to ExCo approval. Pending ExCo approval, HyD will undertake a detailed Noise Insulation Study to identify the exact requirements for noise insulation.

Views and Recommendations of EIA Subcommittee's Members

15.No specific concerns were expressed by Members on the report. The Subcommittee agreed to recommend to the main Council to endorse the report without condition.

Lantau North-South Road Link between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo
(ACE EIA Papers 14/99 and 16/99)

16.The existing Tung Chung Road (TCR) provides the only vehicular access between north and south Lantau. It is a restricted road with a maximum capacity of about 100 vehicle/hour in both directions. Highways Department conducted a detailed feasibility study in 1996 to consider improving the existing TCR to 2-lane standard. The study concluded that even with the widening works in place, the road link will still be sub-standard and pose traffic safety concerns. The proposed road link from Tai Ho Wan to Mui Wo is a new road link to provide access for public transportation and vehicles owned by local residents and will be a 2-lane carriageway of about 6 km long connecting the future Tai Ho Interchange to the North and Mui Wo to the South. It will be operated under a similar permit system as in the existing TCR.

17.The EIA study brief for the Lantau North-South Link (NSL) between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo study was issued in March 1998. The draft Initial Assessment Report (IAR) for EIA was issued in February 1999, which concluded that based on the information available at the IAR stage, no insurmountable environmental impacts is anticipated for all the road alignment options considered and that the tunnel option (MA4+SC4) will have less overall environmental impacts and is preferable from environmental point of view.

18.Subsequent to the IAR, a draft ecological chapter of the EIA was submitted by the consultants in May 1999. While the draft chapter is still under review by AFD and EPD, it provides more information on the potential ecological impacts arising from the project which have not been identified in the IAR stage. The report indicated that there would be residual impacts even after implementation of the mitigation, in particular on the fragmentation of the woodland habitat of the Lin Fa Shan foothills. It also identified that the loss of marsh and fishponds at Luk Tei Tong cannot be compensated with other similar habitat in Mui Wo due to the limited land availability. Also, some new species were identified during the wet season survey including Romer's Tree Frog and the impacts on them are yet to be assessed. The ecological assessment is currently being reviewed by AFD and EPD. At this stage, the study has not demonstrated that the overall environmental performance of the proposed project could meet the requirements as stipulated in the Study Brief and Technical Memorandum on EIA Process.

19.As the recommended on-land option (MA1+SC4) encroaches upon the North Lantau Country Park, the proposal was presented to the Board at its meetings on 23.3.99 and 3.6.99 respectively. The Board commented that the ecological information on Tai Ho Stream and Tai Ho Bay as reflected in the IAR for EIA was inadequate and further examination of possible ecological impacts was required. The Board also requested Highways Department to present the EIA report for its consideration when completed.

Views and Recommendations of EIA Subcommittee's Members

20.Members discussed the report at the meeting. Queries mainly focussed on the need of the road link, the alignment options and the cumulative impacts to be caused by this project and the proposed Tai Ho development project in Lantau.

21.The project proponent explained that the NSL was proposed due to the severe traffic and capacity problems of the existing TCR, which had sharp bends and steep gradients that could not be overcome by the widening option. Meanwhile, the Transport Department was suppressing the local traffic demand by issuing limited number of TCR Permit. Though the TCR would not be closed after the operation of the NSL, it would be restricted to the use of public transport at a minimum level.

22.The project proponent also confirmed that the Government had concluded that the widening of TCR was not a practical solution to the existing problem due to engineering and safety reasons. Regarding the alignment option of NSL, MA1 + SC 4 was recommended by the project proponent after rated all options by different aspects of considerations. This was the alternative least likely to pollute Tai Ho Stream.

23.On the whole, the Subcommittee advised the project proponent to provide the following information in the final EIA report:

- provide justifications and assessments with further traffic counts on the need of the project in the context of future planned development in South Lantau;
- assess the safety problem of TCR in terms of projected traffic level, speed limit and design of the road;
- provide reasons of keeping TCR in use after the operation of NSL;
- the casualty figures of TCR in the past ten years;
- address Members' deep concerns on the potential impacts on Tai Ho Stream and consider all possible mitigation measures while determining the alignment option;
- pay special attention to the existence of Romer's Tree Frog in the subject site;
- take into account the quality of the lost habitats while comparing the alignment options;
- take note of the significance of the potential hydraulic impact caused by the loss of habitats;
- propose mitigation measures for fish ponds being illegally infilled; and
- take into account the cumulative impacts to be caused by this project and the proposed Tai Ho development project in Lantau.

Essential Public Infrastructure Works - Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun Centre
(ACE EIA Papers 15/99)

24.The report involved the three designated projects as follows:

Yuen Long

i) the existing Long Yat Road will be realigned to provide access to the proposed Public Transport Interchange below the future station related Comprehensive Development Areas, and to provide Emergency Vehicle Access to the future Yuen Long station;
ii) prior to the re-alignment of Long Yat Road, three new local roads in the vicinity will be constructed to maintain the road network during the construction of the West Rail. Apart from the construction and re-alignment of these roads, related road junctions will be widened;

Tin Shui Wai

iii) the Tin Fuk Road and Ping Ha Road will be realigned to accommodate the future Tin Shui Wai station;
iv) in addition, Tin Fuk Road will be widened and Tin Yiu Road realigned.

Tuen Mun Centre

v) four existing roads and their junctions will be widened and improved.

25.Packages of direct noise mitigation measures have been developed to ensure that operational phase noise impacts can be controlled to meet the requirements of the Technical Memorandum on the EIA process. However, residual road traffic noise impacts are predicted to affect adjacent existing and planned sensitive receivers. These sensitive receivers will be eligible for indirect technical remedies in the form of window insulation and air-conditioning. Pending ExCo approval, Highways Department will undertake a detailed Noise Insulation Study to identify the exact requirements for noise insulation.

Views and Recommendations of EIA Subcommittee's Members

26.No specific concerns were expressed by Members on the report. The Subcommittee agreed to recommend to the main Council to endorse the report without condition.

 

EIA Subcommittee Secretariat
July 1999


 

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