Environment Protection  DepartmentThe Operation of Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance in Hong Kong
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Content > Foreword - Mr. Elvis Au > Foreword - Professor K C Lam

Mr. Elvis Au  - Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment and Noise)
Mr. Elvis Au
Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment and Noise)

The aim of the EIA Ordinance is to protect the environment as a whole; the environment for the entire community; the environment for present and future generations as well as the environment for sustainable development. To achieve this purpose requires a genuine and close relationship by all stakeholders including support and participation from the public with due regard for the environment.

In numerous cases over the past three years, proponents have taken a proactive approach to look for and explore various alternatives, to adopt the most environmentally friendly options, and have exchanges up-front, early dialogue with other stakeholders. This has proved to be a recipe for success. At the end, these proponents proceed through the statutory EIA process without major difficulties and the approval of EIA reports have in fact assisted them to resolve many other related issues.

For the first 3 years of the operation of the EIA Ordinance from April 1998 to December 2001, more than 464 applications were submitted for projects worth over HK$326 billion. 157 project profiles and 53 EIA reports were exhibited for public comment. 86 EIA study briefs were issued. 47 EIA reports were approved and 199 environmental permits were issued. Applications that successfully went through the statutory EIA process cover over 93 kilometres of highways and roads, 75 kilometres of railways, 355ha of site formation and development work and 164ha of airport decommissioning work.

Similarly, there has been other cases in which proponents and contractors maintained dialogue with other stakeholders during construction, thus gaining the confidence and acceptance of other stakeholders and minimizing environmental impacts.

The EIA Ordinance has made the difference for Hong Kong's environment. Over HK$300 billion in projects have been designed to meet environmental requirements and over 1 million people are to be protected from adverse environmental consequences and many hectares of valuable ecological areas have been saved from destruction.

The statutory EIA process is a multi-stakeholders' process, involving many stake-holders such as the project proponents, consultants, green groups, academics, contractors and general members of the public. There is surely a need for the parties concerned to continue to build consensus and partnership throughout the whole process under the EIAO from the planning stage to the construction and even operation stage. The ever increasing demand for infra structure and development in Hong Kong has led to an ever increasing need for a stronger consensus and partnership in the implementation of the EIA Ordinance.

The implementation of the EIA Ordinance has opened up the entire EIA process for the public to participate. Both the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment are now closely involved in the statutory EIA process. Opportunities for the public to be involved in the EIA process are now far greater than with the previous EIA system, and much more than with any other ordinances in Hong Kong. It is also much more transparent with all key information readily accessible via the Internet. The process is one of the most transparent processes in Hong Kong and in the world.

Finally, there is no room for complacency. We are firmly committed to continued improvement and partnership building in order to achieve sustainable development in Hong Kong.

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