Environment Protection  DepartmentThe Operation of Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance in Hong Kong
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Follow-up and Enforcement

Content > Seeing It Through To The End > EIA Follow Up > Enforcing the Ordinance on a Territory-wide Basis > Enforcement Figures and Prosecution

Enforcing the Ordinance on a Territory-wide Basis

Enforcement under the EIA Ordinance plays an essential role in achieving the Ordinance's deterrent effect and its ultimate goal of protecting the environment. The current enforcement strategy divides resources into four areas:

(1) Satellite Photographs
(2) Survey Maps and Photographs
(3) Aerial and Land Based Surveillance
(4) Site Inspection/Evidence Collection by EPD Staff

Figure 6A: The flow of actions for EIA Ordinance enforcement.
Figure 6A: The flow of actions for EIA Ordinance enforcement.

Routine Site Inspection

Staff from the Environmental Protection Department have been tasked with the routine monitoring of project implementation since the concept of Environmental Monitoring and Auditing was developed in the early 1990s. With the implementation of the EIA Ordinance, routine site inspections have been emphasized during the project planning, permit application and permit enforcement stages. The main purpose of site inspections is to monitor current on-site situations and to check whether permit conditions are fully complied with. Our staff are also responsible for collecting evidence for cases in which violations of environmental permit conditions are suspected.

Photo of Satellite photograph.
Satellite photograph.

Satellite Photographs

Satellite photographs provide a valuable snap shot of major developments in Hong Kong and its nearby environment. They provide especially vital information for border areas where access by helicopter or land is limited. However, the quality of satellite photos is dependent on weather conditions, with the best time for taking such photos in Hong Kong being the relatively cloud-free season of mid-autumn each year.

Survey Maps and Photographs from Lands Department

The Photogrammetic and Air Survey Section of the Lands Department produces aerial photographs covering the whole region of Hong Kong from altitudes of 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet once each year. Other aerial photographs are also taken twice annually at 4,000 feet but do not cover all of Hong Kong. Annual aerial photographs taken from 10,000 feet provide valuable annual baseline conditions of land use. Photographs taken from 4,000 feet facilitate the determination of potential violations of the EIA Ordinance, such as construction being carried out without a permit or reclamation works exceeding the threshold limit.

Designated Aerial/Land Based Surveillance by Term Contractor

In order to enhance efficiency and to free departmental resources to manage enforcement duties, a term contractor has been employed through a hire of service contract to carry out surveillance work. The arrangement facilitates the screening of potential violations of the EIA Ordinance, while leaving the Department's resources open to focus on collecting legal evidence and carrying out subsequent prosecution procedures.

There are two types of surveillance services provided by the term contractor: routine surveillance and emergency surveillance. These are carried out both on an aerial and land basis.

Routine Surveillance

The term contractor carries out routine site surveillance for designated projects. In addition to checking compliance with permit conditions, the surveillance team also carries out spot checks and reports potential EIA Ordinance violations. Written reports and photo records are prepared after each trip. Photographs and records gathered through regular surveillance serve to track any potential offences.

Photo of Survey map of Kwai Chung at an altitude of 4000ft.
Survey map of Kwai Chung at an altitude of 4000ft.

Photo of Land Based surveillance by EPD staff.
Land Based surveillance by EPD staff.

Emergency Surveillance

When a violation complaint is received or a suspected offance is detected the term contractor will visit the concerned project site as quickly as possible to investigate the case and record detailed observations. Photographs will be taken by digital camera and transmitted through e-mail immediately after the site visit. Upon receiving information provided by the term contractor, our staff may follow up by taking legal action when appropriate.

Aerial Based Surveillance

Aerial surveillance is a rapid means of collecting data, as information is usually available within one to three days, depending on weather conditions. The contractor takes aerial photos at designated locations at agreed altitudes. The service is particularly useful in areas where land access is difficult, where an overview above ground is essential (e.g. surveillance of silt curtains used in dredging work) and where the project covers a large area.

Land Based Surveillance

Land based surveillance provides a detailed field investigation and hence gives clearer advice on potential EIA Ordinance violations.

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