Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 80th Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 30 November 2000 at 2:00 p.m.


Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, GBS, JP (Chairman)  
Mr. CHAN Kwok-wai, JP  
Miss Ann CHIANG  
Mr. Clement CHEN  
Professor Anthony HEDLEY, BBS, JP  
Dr. HO Kin-chung  
Professor LAM Kin-che  
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming  
Dr. NG Cho-nam  
Mr. Otto L. T. POON  
Ms Iris TAM  
Mr. Plato YIP  
Mr. Donald TONG (Secretary)  

Absent with Apologies:
Mr. Barrie COOK
Mr. Paul C. H. FAN, JP
Professor Peter HILLS
Mr. Edwin LAU
Mr. Joseph LAU Man-wai, JP
Dr. LEONG Che-hung, JP
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH
Miss Alex YAU


In Attendance:

Mr. Kim SALKELD Deputy Secretary (B), Environment and Food Bureau (EFB)
Mr. Thomas CHOW Deputy Secretary (C), EFB
Mr. Rob LAW Director of Environmental Protection
Mrs. Ava NG Deputy Director, Planning Department
Mr. S P LAU Acting Deputy Director, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
Mrs. Pauline LING Acting Chief Information Officer, EFB
Miss Petula POON Chief Executive Officer (B), EFB
Ms. Polly LEUNG Principal Information Officer, EPD

In Attendance for Agenda Item 1

Prof. Donald HARLEMAN Chairman, International Review Panel (IRP)
Prof. Leonard CHENG Member, IRP
Dr. Albert KOENIG Member, IRP
Prof Dr, Eng Sebastian PELIZZA Member, IRP
Prof. Qian YI Member, IRP
Prof. Rudolf WU Member, IRP
Mr. Benny WONG Assistant Director, (Waste and Water), EPD

In Attendance for Agenda Item 4

Ms. Annie CHOI Principal Assistant Secretary(B)2, EFB (PAS(B)2/EFB)
Dr. Lawrence WONG Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Facilities Management), EPD (PEPO(FM)/EPD)


The Chairman apologized to Members that due to a mix-up he had to chair another meeting at 2:30 pm and would therefore hand over the chair to Prof. Lam Kin-che around 2:20 pm. He hoped to be able to return to the Council meeting shortly afterwards.

Agenda Item 1 : Briefing by the International Review Panel on its Report on the Review of the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme

2. The Chairman welcomed the International Review Panel (IRP) to the meeting and invited the IRP Chairman to brief Members on the Report on the Review of Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS).

Task of the IRP

3. The IRP Chairman started the briefing by pointing out that the task of the IRP was to review the options and recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on SSDS Stage II and review, in the light of experience gained in Stage I tunneling and chemically enhanced primary treatment (CEPT) plant operation, the subsequent stages of SSDS and propose other plans with greater environmental and cost benefits. On SSDS Stage I, the IRP noted that the Sewage Treatment Plant at Stonecutters' Island functioned more efficiently than originally expected. Its effluent was able to achieve 90% of the level of secondary treatment plants. The IRP recommended that the on-going Stage I works should continue and be completed as soon as possible.

Ocean Outfall

4. The IRP Chairman said that the EIA options invariably recommended that effluents be discharged through long outfall to the west/east of Lamma Island or further south in the Lema Channel. In the analysis of ocean outfalls, the IRP considered that it was basically a trade-off between the following-

  1. a lower level of treatment, which in the present case was the existing CEPT plant at the Stonecutters' Island, with a long outfall for dilution of effluents at sea; and
  2. a higher level of waste water treatment at Stonecutters' Island with a short, low dilution outfall.
EIA Option (Option I)

5. The IRP Chairman said the IRP was of the opinion that Option 1 of the EIA report was neither viable nor sustainable in the long run. The main reason was that the southern waters were a nursery ground for marine plants and animals. However, the present water quality in the southern waters, measured in ammonia and dissolved oxygen, was close to and occasionally fell below the water quality objectives of that particular zone in Hong Kong. The IRP did not consider it viable to further discharge effluents in the southern waters as such action would deplete dissolved oxygen and render the waters not suitable for marine life. In addition, the IRP considered investment in a 17 kilometres outfall not economical. In the event that Hong Kong should decide to upgrade the level of sewage treatment and build additional treatment facilities, the benefit of the long outfall would be lost.

Options for biological treatment

6. The IRP Chairman said that the EIA option for biological treatment involving conventional activated sludge technology were not viable. IRP recommended Biological Aerated Filter (BAF) which was an innovative tertiary treatment technology, particularly suitable for Hong Kong where land resource was a major constraint. IRP expected that the limited space at Stonecutters' Island should be adequate for installing the BAF facilities. Since effluent would be subject to tertiary treatment, it could be discharged via the existing interim outfall in the vicinity of the Victoria Harbour and still meet existing water quality objectives for the harbour. The 17 km long outfall would then no longer be necessary, thereby saving public money and the marine life at Lema Channel. In addition, sewage treatment processes other than Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) removal, such as nitrification (biological oxidation of ammoniacal nitrogen to nitrate) and nitrogen removal by denitrification (biological reduction of nitrate to nitrogen gas) could be easily added onto the BAF, thereby enabling us to further upgrade the level of sewage treatment at Stonecutters' Island.

7 The IRP Chairman then described the features of the four IRP options, (details available in Chapter 4 of the Report) and compared their cost with those of the EIA options. He said that the IRP did not have strong preference for any one of the four options. A number of studies would have to be undertaken to evaluate those options. The most important study would be the pilot test for BAF as it had not been extensively tested under salt water condition which was commonly used for toilet flushing in Hong Kong.

8. The IRP Chairman then briefly compared the cost of the four IRP options. He said that Option 5(d), which had the highest cost, represented an option of the greatest degree of decentralization with two treatment facilities at North Point and Sandy Bay. The IRP did not, however, consider that decentralization was a critical factor. The decentralization option was presented to address the concerns of certain sectors of the community which were in favour of distributed sewage treatment facilities. Option 5(b) and 5(c) each had only one decentralized facility respectively at Lamma Island and Sandy Bay whereas Option 5(a) would centralize all treatment of sewage at Stonecutters' Island.

9. The IRP Chairman summed up the briefing by saying that Option 1 was a solution to pollution by dilution. The IRP options were solutions by up-grading treatment at relatively lower cost due to the elimination of the long outfall tunnels and possibly some collection tunnels.

Cost Comparison and Cost/Benefit Analysis

10. The Acting Chairman enquired about the major advantages of the IRP options over the Option 1 in terms of cost, timing and engineering feasibility. The IRP Chairman said that the IRP options would avoid construction of long outfall as proposed under Option 1. The investment in a long outfall would be lost if Hong Kong were to upgrade the level of sewage treatment within 15 years after the construction of the long outfall. He referred to the experience in Boston in which investments were made in what was at present the world's longest ocean outfall (15 km) plus full secondary biological treatment and conventional primary treatment facilities. The result was that Boston had made double investments in a long outfall as well as secondary treatment facilities but still could not achieve the tertiary level treatment in terms of ammonia and nitrogen reduction.

11. An IRP Member referred to Table 3 in the Report which summarized the cost and benefit of Option 1 and the four IRP options. He said that the initial feedback from Government on cost comparison was that the IRP might be too optimistic in estimating that IRP Option 5(a) could be completed in four years. The Government said that the lead-time required in going through all the administrative and tendering procedures before commencement of works might take four years. His view was that this should not invalidate the IRP argument as the cost of the IRP options would only go up by around HK$1.5 to 2 billion each year if there was delay in the completion of the IRP options. The savings achieved by the IRP options over Option 1 could afford a delay of four years. However, he pointed out that the cost of Option 1 was not realistic either. It was predicated on the assumption that Hong Kong would continue to discharge CEPT effluent near Lamma Island for 50 years, which in his view was quite unlikely.

12. An IRP Member pointed out that the biggest nightmare for Option 1 was that before the project was completed, the public would demand an upgrade in the level of sewage treatment and build a new treatment plant. If Hong Kong decided to build the long outfall now and then construct a BAF plant 15 years later, the total cost would go up from the present cost of HK$46 billion to HK$56 or HK$57 billion. Whilst there was a need to adjust the cost of the IRP options to take into account the longer time required to commence and complete the project, it would also be necessary to adjust the cost of Option 1 in the event that an upgrading was needed in 15 years' time. Furthermore, the cost of HK$56 billion had not taken into consideration the uncertainty element associated with building long tunnels.

13. In response to a Member's enquiry, an IRP Member said that Options 1 and 2 in the EIA study for Stage II were environmentally unacceptable. Options 3 and 4 of the study involved very huge costs almost double that of the IRP Options 5(a) to 5(c). In making the cost comparison, the IRP took the costing from EIA when there were identical components. For components which were not found in EIA options, the IRP made its own cost estimation based on the experience of other countries.

14. On the acting Chairman's enquiry on the assumptions adopted, an IRP Member said that as far as the capital cost and operating and maintenance cost of the EIA options were concerned, they were taken from the EIA report directly and were re-calculated taking into consideration the depreciation factor. For the IRP options, when there were identical components such as tunnels, he adopted the same cost as provided in the EIA report. For the BAF plant, depreciation rates similar to those adopted in European countries were used. He obtained the total present cost through discounting over a period of 58 years using a rate of 4% which was adopted in earlier reports on SSDS.

15. In reply to a Member's question on Option 1, an IRP Member said that this option was neither viable nor sustainable from an environmental point of point. It was also inferior in comparison with Options 5(a) to 5(d). Considering the two factors together, he could not see the merits for the Administration in choosing Option 1. The IRP's recommendation was that the Administration should conduct a different EIA study on one or all four IRP options. 1995 Review 16. Noting that the IRP did not consider Option 1 a viable or sustainable option, the acting Chairman sought clarification on why a different IPR endorsed Option 1 during the 1995 SSDS review. In response, the IRP Chairman said as a member of the 1995 IRP, he did support Option 1 that time. However, the current IRP did not support Option 1 because there had been emerging new technology in the past five years. Sewage treatment technology including BAF which was relatively new in 1995 had now been widely used in Europe with successful operational experience in cities like Oslo and Paris. The current IRP therefore felt much more confident than in the past in recommending the use of BAF in Hong Kong.

Design, build and operate method

17. Referring to the long lead-time required for infrastructural projects, an IRP Chairman said that the "design, build and operate" (DBO) method might help speed up the process and suggested the Administration take this approach into account.

Water quality objectives

18. A Member referred to the conclusion of the Review Report regarding ammoniacal nitrogen and water quality standards and said that it conflicted with the findings of the EIA conducted a year ago. He asked for clarifications from the IRP.

19. An IRP Member said that as far as water quality objectives were concerned, the IRP did not agree with the conclusions of the EIA. The IRP considered that the discharge of CEPT effluent in the southern waters was neither viable nor sustainable. It would exceed the carrying capacity, lead to oxygen depletion, and would very likely cause nitrification, algae bloom and possibly red tides.

Depleted oxygen

20. An IRP Member said that at present, the level of nitrogen and phosphorus were very high in the southern waters where the proposed outfall was supposed to be built. At the same time, dissolved oxygen (DO) was very low there. A decreasing trend of DO was in fact noted in the past 10 years. The EIA Report considered the impacts acceptable mainly because of the consideration that the DO level could comply with the water quality objectives of Hong Kong (depth average of font 4mg/L and bottom 2m font 2mg/L, 90% of time). However, the IRP had great reservation on this point. The IRP noted that the uncertainties of the model prediction in the EIA were plus or minus 30%. On that basis, the degree of compliance claimed by the EIA could mean depth average of font 2.8mg/L and bottom font 1.4mg/L. With 90% time compliance, this would mean that for 10% of the time, the DO would be less than depth average of 2.8mg/L or bottom 1.4mg/L in the worst scenario. I n addition, even if it could comply with the water quality objectives of Hong Kong, the IRP considered that 90% compliance at such low DO standard would not protect marine life at all. In fact, DO standards of depth average of font 4mg/L and bottom 2m font 2mg/L was equivalent to less than half of the oxygen value in normal sea water and 2.8mg/L meant less than one-quarter of the normal oxygen value. DO standard in Hong Kong was amongst the lowest in the world. Considering that the southern waters were a nursery ground for fish and a great number of marine lives, the IRP did not accept discharging further effluent into the waters there. Furthermore, the IRP considered that the minimum level of DO was much more crucial to the survival and sustainability of marine lives than the annual average DO level. Oxygen depletion over a short period of time could kill off most marine animals. Finally, the IRP noted that the DO level in Victoria Harbour would be better than that in the southern waters in 2001 after SSDS Stage I was completed. The IRP considered that the improvement of water quality in Victoria Harbour should not be at the expense of that in the southern waters.

Nutrient level

21. That IRP Member further pointed out that nutrient level in the southern waters were very high already. Various record indicated that the nutrient level there was on the verge of eutrophication. Any further discharge of effluent in the southern waters was likely to increase the chance of algae bloom and red tide.

Biological Aerated filter

22. A Member asked why the IRP only recommended the use of BAF as there were other technologies (e.g. sequential batch reactor) and whether it would be too risky to rely on one single technology.

23. In response, an IRP Member said that a number of factors had led to the IRP's recommendation that only BAF was suitable for Hong Kong. First, BAF was a space-efficient compact technology which suited best the physical constraints at Stonecutters' Island. Second, the existing CEPT plant worked extremely well with salt water - much better than predicted. As a result, there was no longer a need to install conventional secondary level treatment at Stonecutters' Island and treatment level could go straight up to tertiary level by BAF. Third, IRP believed that there was an over-estimation of average and peak design flows used in the EIA for Stages I & III/IV. Hence, there might not be a need to install additional CEPT treatment facilities at Stonecutters' Island for future Stage III/IV flows, thereby making available more space for other treatment facilities. Fourth, the success of BAF was proven in plants of similar size. BAF would work best if it was preceded by chemical pre-treatment and the conventional activated sludge method was not the best treatment alternative. By combining CEPT and BAF, one would achieve saving in space and have primary chemical treatment and biological treatment at the same time. Besides, BAF technology had flexibility for BOD removal, nitrification or nitrogen removal in case of need.

24. The IRP Chairman added that BAF was probably the only biological treatment that did not need secondary clarifiers because it had a backwash process.

25. The acting Chairman enquired how new was the BAF technology and whether it had been adopted in cities of similar size like Hong Kong. An IRP Member said that BAF technology was about 15 years old. It was developed as part of a tertiary treatment to meet stringent effluent standards and was later converted to an active biological treatment process. The technology had reached a stage of maturity and had been built in new wastewater treatment plants as an alternative to the conventional activated sludge treatment process. It was also used in old wastewater treatment plants as a tertiary treatment step for upgrading the effluent. The BAF plant being built in Paris was expected to treat sewage from more than 8 million people.

26. The acting Chairman enquired how the BAF process would compare with the activated sludge treatment process in terms of energy consumption. An IRP Member said that the energy consumption of BAF was equivalent or slightly higher than that of the activated sludge treatment process. But this would not mean that the total operating cost would be higher because energy cost constituted less than 20% of the total operating cost of sewage treatment plant.

27. In response to the acting Chairman's enquiry about the stacking of the facilities and related hydraulic problem, An IRP Member said that there would be no problem since the CEPT plant at Stonecutters' Island had also two storeys and had not encountered any problems because of this. He also confirmed that there would be no clogging problem because there would be automatic backwashing applied to the BAFs on a daily basis.

28. An IRP Member supplemented that though the modern BAF was a relatively young technology, it had an old ancestor in the form of sand filter for water treatment and trickling filter for wastewater treatment. With improvement in the filter media and the capacity of loading, BAF technology had been able to function as an efficient biological treatment unit. A BAF plant was recently built in Dailian and would be in operation soon.

Water quality of the Victoria Harbour

29. A Member asked how the proposal would improve water quality in the Harbour as well as the potential use of the Harbour for recreation purposes. An IRP Member said that given the different beneficial uses of water bodies in various water quality zones in Hong Kong, the treatment level of sewage could be adjusted accordingly to match the beneficial use of the water body where the effluents were eventually discharged. The beneficial use of Victoria Harbour was designated for shipping purposes while that for the southern waters was for nursery grounds for fish and marine life which needed a better water quality. The BAF technology would greatly improve water quality in the Victoria Harbour in terms of DO, ammonia and nitrogen level. As for E. coli, BAF would likely remove 90 to 95% of the E. coli. If disinfection were to be added, it would further remove the E. coli concentration in the Victoria Harbour. However, the model run by EPD showed that BAF and disinfection alone would not greatly improve the E. coli concentration in beaches and marine culture zones in Ting Kau and Lamma Island. The E Coli count there would exceed the water quality objectives by a small margin. Control of effluent discharge in the Victoria Harbour by non-SSDS systems would bring down the E. coli concentration. Two IRP Members supplemented that untreated storm water discharged to the Victoria Harbour was a main source of high E. coli concentration.

30. The acting Chairman asked on behalf of the Chairman whether water quality in the Victoria Harbour could be improved to the extent that it was suitable for swimming again. In response, an IRP Member reiterated the beneficial use of the Victoria Harbour and said that it would be extremely expensive if sewage was to be treated to a level that would allow swimming in the Victoria Harbour.

31. DEP said that given the busy vessel movements in the Victoria Habour and the wave issue, it would not be a practical proposition to use the Harbour for swimming.

Land requirement

32. A Member commended the IRP for its excellent work and enquired about the land requirement if BAF was to be introduced for the proposed treatment plants in Hong Kong Island. An IRP Member said that the proposed plants in North Point and Sandy Bay would occupy an area of 4 hectares and 1.2 hectares respectively.

33. In reply to the acting Chairman's enquiry about the need for reclamation, an IRP Member said that Options 5(a) and (b) would not involve any reclamation. Another IRP Member said BAF plant adjacent to the shoreline would cost 20% to 30 % more due to the need to install additional facilities to control odour and air pollution arising from sewage treatment.

Most Preferred Option

34. A Member asked why the IRP recommended four options and which was its most preferred option. The IRP Chairman said strong interest from certain sectors of the community in decentralization of sewage facilities during the IRP's public consultation was the main reason leading to the IRP's four options. Such an approach would allow Hong Kong to make its own choice. The first three IRP options had more or less the same cost level. As for Option 5(b), it had the advantage of further expansion potential. All four options were viable as far as water qualities were concerned. His personal opinion was that the first three options were more preferable but Option 5(b) would give the greatest flexibility for future upgrading.

35. An IRP Member added that the IRP had no official position on the most preferred option because it had not taken any vote. However, he personally preferred Option 5(b) because it would provide space for the construction of an incinerator next to the BAF Plant. The minimization of shipping of sludge would in the long run reduce cost. That IRP Member said that Options 5(c) and (d) would involve land reclamation in which case the opportunity cost would be much higher, rising to HK$36.9 and $50.2 billion respectively. The conclusion was that the cost of having a distributed sewage system beyond option 5(b) would be very high.

36. The acting Chairman said that in the 1995 review, it was said that the issue of nutrient removal would depend upon a political decision. He asked whether the BAF in the present case was a political decision. The IRP Chairman clarified that in the 1995 review it was mentioned that since nitrogen was already high around the Lamma Island, further removal of a bit more nitrogen would be a political decision. But today, the recommendation of BAF was not a political decision.

37. An IRP Member supplemented that it was true that the Pearl River Delta was polluted to a certain degree and this affected the southern waters of Hong Kong. At present, the Guangdong Authority had decided to step up its efforts in controlling water pollution in Pearl River Delta by implementing environmentally friendly production measures and building industrial wastewater treatment plants for factories. Furthermore, about 50 municipal wastewater treatment facilities with nutrient removal would be built in the coming 10 years. At the same time, the control of the no-point pollution sources had gained much attention in the Mainland. She hoped that collaboration between Hong Kong and Guangdong would continue.

Outfall Discharge

38. Noting that three of the IRP four options would discharge effluents in water bodies to the west of the Harbour, a Member asked whether the IRP had made any forecast on the risk in centralizing all the sewage discharge in one region. An IRP Member said that whilst there might be more sensitive receivers in Lamma Island, it should not cause any problem in meeting the water quality objectives there bearing in mind the high quality effluent to be discharged.

EIA study

39 A Member asked whether the IRP would assist in the future assessment of technical requirement so that the EIA could be conducted properly. In reply, the IRP Chairman said that the IRP would like to be involved in the on-going process.

40. DEP said that the model proposed by IRP was one of the best in the world. However, one of the major concerns was about the interpretation of the models and how the result would be used. EPD would be consulting extensively on the approach to be adopted in conducting the EIA.


41. A Member asked how would the tunnel problem in option 1 compare with the IRP options. An IRP Member said the geological conditions in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were quite similar. Drawdown of underground water due to tunneling activities would create settlement on the surface. To avoid settlement, it was necessary to use a correct choice of techniques for the excavation work. Water inflow in the tunnel could be reduced by immediate lining following excavation of the tunnel. One new technique would reduce underground water pressure but the technique was not well tested yet.

Time frame

42. In response to a Member's enquiry about the time frame for the new technology, an IRP Member referred to Table 3 of the Report and said that putting aside the lead-time required for administrative procedures, the construction of the facilities at Stonecutters' Island would take about three years. Those in other sites would take a slightly longer time. The use of DBO method would help reduce the time required. Given that the upgrading of the preliminary treatment plants in Stage III and IV would be time consuming, they could start immediately without waiting for a final decision on an option.

Way forward

43. A Member asked when would the Administration take a view on the recommendations of the Review Report. In reply, DS(B)/EFB said that the present meeting was intended primarily for the IRP to brief the Council. The Administration would study the findings and the recommendations of the report in detail before offering its comments.

44. In concluding the discussion, the acting Chairman suggested that the IRP recommendations had sufficient apparent merits to warrant the administration's serious consideration. He also said, on behalf of Mr. Peter Wong that the Council would wish to take more time to digest the Report and if necessary might further discuss with local members of the IRP. He thanked the IRP for its hard work and the comprehensive report with fresh insight on waste treatment technologies. He said that in the mean time Members looked forward to receiving views from Administration on the way forward.

45. DS(B)/EFB also thanked the IRP and said that the Administration recognized the need for extensive consultation and for building consensus on sewage strategy before deciding on the way forward.

46. Before leaving, an IRP Member said that certain parts of the Chinese version of the Review Report, being a translated version, needed fine-tuning. He suggested Members to refer to the English version in case of doubt.

Agenda Item 2 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 79th Meeting held on 19 September 2000

47. Members noted that a Member had proposed amendments to paragraph 60 of the draft minutes to read "...coorganized by the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers together with two other Institutions in Guangdong and Macau, it was agreed and recommendations had been made to their respective governments that 2% of the school contact hours should be devoted to the theme of environmental education. He wondered...". The minutes were confirmed subject to that Member's amendments.

Agenda Item 3 : Matters ArisingPara

27 : Summary of Environmental Monitoring and Audit Report (EM&A) reports

48. The acting Chairman said that the Secretariat would ask DEP to provide written information as to whether under the EIA Ordinance EPD could require a proponent to prepare a summary of the EM&A report as a condition in the environmental permit.

Para. 46 : Proposal to control Idling engines

49. DS(C)/EFB said the Bureau had consulted the New Territories, urban and Lantau taxi associations, public light bus drivers, drivers and operators of trucks and goods vehicles and would soon consult the operators of public light buses in December. After the consultation, the Bureau would submit a paper to the Council on the way forward.

50. A Member doubted whether the consultation would lead the Administration anywhere. From an environmental point of view, he felt that idling engines caused immense problem to air quality and worked against improvement measures and environmental strategies discussed at the Council.

51. DS(C)/EFB explained that public consultation was a necessary step before Government could introduce any new control measure. The Bureau would need to explain to the Legislative Council the views of those who would be affected by the proposal. It was hoped that through the consultation exercise, the Government would know more about the modus operandi of the affected trades (e.g. vehicles with refrigerating facilities) before deciding whether they should be exempted from the proposed control scheme. The Bureau had committed to formulating proposals within 2001. The Council would be consulted on the proposals.

52. A Member asked whether the Government would expand the scope of the consultation to include other stakeholders in the community such as the medical profession so that there would be a more balanced consultation. DS(C)/EFB said prior to consultation with the transport trade, the Bureau had consulted all the District Councils on the proposal. They supported it in principle but suggested that for practical reasons certain vehicles should be exempted from the proposed control scheme. It was clear that the green groups and the medical professions were very supportive of the proposal.

Para. 56: Information paper on the work of the Gunagdong-HongKong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection

53. Members noted that the information paper was under preparation and would be presented to the Council as soon as possible.


Para.62 : Information from Education Department on inclusion of community environmental education in school curriculum

54. Members noted that the Bureau had written to the Education Department on the subject and was awaiting a reply.

Para. 64 : Briefing document on Public Investment in Environmental Improvement Programme

55. Members noted that the briefing document was circulated to them on 22 November 2000.

Para. 74 : Visit to Macau

56. The acting Chairman informed Members that the Secretariat had written to the Macau SAR Government on the Council's courtesy visit to Macau. The proposal was accepted and a date was being worked out. The secretariat would inform Members when more information was available.

Agenda Item 4 : Waste Disposal Ordinance (Chapter 354) Amendments to the Waste Disposal (Refuse Transfer Station) Regulation
(ACE Paper 37/2000)

57. The acting Chairman welcomed PAS(B)2/EFB and PEPO(FM)/EPD to the meeting. PAS(B)2/EFB briefed Members on the proposals of the paper.

58. In reply to a Member's enquiry on the difference between the charges of refuse transfer stations in Kowloon and those on Hong Kong Island, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the operating cost of the private waste collectors was one of the considerations. The Government would have to set the charge of the refuse transfer stations at a level which would be attractive to private collectors who would otherwise continue to go directly to the landfills. As regards the charge differential between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, she said that it had taken into account saving arising from the transportation cost and the tunnel tolls etc.

59. A Member asked on what conditions would the hoteliers be encouraged to hire their own collectors instead of making use of the Government collection service. PAS(B)2/EFB said that basically the hoteliers needed to hire their service except those who had historically been using the service of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. Under the users pay principle, the Government was considering withdrawing free waste collection service in due course.

60. The acting Chairman asked why the Central and Western District Council requested for a review in six months' time. PAS(B)2/EFB said that its concern was the traffic impact because the opening of the refuse transfer station to private waste collectors would increase the number of refuse vehicles travelling in the district.

61. In reply to a Member's enquiry, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the reduction of the charges would increase the utilisation rates of the refuse transfer stations as indicated by the positive response of the consultation with the trade. The original charge was based on the marginal cost needed to provide service for the private waste collectors. If Government reduced the charges, in theory there would be increased subsidy for the operators, but the increased utilisation would bring in revenue and the diversion of refuse from Southeast New Territories (SENT) Landfill to the West New Territories (WENT) Landfill would bring some cost savings to the Government. Overall speaking, the proposal would be revenue neutral. It would not result in additional cost to the taxpayers and at the same time would bring economic benefits to the private waste collectors.

62. A Member noted that many enterprises in the business sector were using Government service instead of hiring their own collection service. He asked about the proportion and whether the Government would wish to change the position. PEPO(FM)/EPD said that at present, Government handled a total of 9,000 tonnes of municipal solid wastes per day. Two-third of this was collected by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department free of charge and one-third by private collectors at a cost ranging from tens of dollars to one hundred dollars per tonne. Ms Choi added that the long-term direction was for the users to pay for their own service. As regards the current proposal, the objective was to attract more private waste collectors to use the service of the refuse transfer stations and to divert waste collection from the SENT Landfill to the WENT Landfill.

63. A Member supported the proposal since the shorter distance in transporting waste to refuse transfer stations would help reduce air pollution as well.

64. The acting Chairman concluded that Members supported the proposals in ACE Paper 37/2000.

Agenda Item 5 : Any Other Business

Terms of office of the Council

65. In reply to the enquiry of the acting Chairman, the Secretary said that the next terms of office of Council Members was being considered and Members would be informed in due course.

Regards to SEF

66. A Member suggested and Members agreed to send formal regards to SEF and wished her speedy recovery.

Agenda Item 6 : Date of Next Meeting

67. Members noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 18 December 2000.


ACE Secretariat
December 2000


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