(ACE Paper 12/2001)
This paper seeks Members' advice on the proposal to establish a number of newly developed areas as "Designated Areas" under the Noise Control Ordinance (NCO).
2. Under the NCO, a construction works company has to obtain a Construction Noise Permit from the Noise Control Authority in order to carry out general construction work using powered mechanical equipment between 7 pm and 7 am, or at any time on a general holiday. The Noise Control Authority will apply more stringent criterion when assessing applications for Construction Noise Permit where the applicant proposes to carry out "prescribed construction activities", i.e. noisy manual work, or use "specified powered mechanical equipment" within "Designated Areas". "Designated Areas" are densely populated areas and are established by the Secretary for the Environment and Food by way of notice in the Gazette. Before the Environment and Food Bureau was set up, the former Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) was responsible for establishing " Designated Areas" under the NCO. In January 1996, the former SPEL issued the first such Gazette notice establishing the locations marked red on the map at Annex as " Designated Areas". Numerous new residential areas that have been developed since then call for an update.
3. It is proposed that the locations marked green on the map at Annex be established as "Designated Areas".
4. We have consulted the trades concerned (including trade associations, public utility companies and railway operators) and professional bodies on the proposal. They were generally supportive.
5. Indicating its appreciation of the need to minimise the construction noise impact on densely populated areas, the Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association did not object to the proposal. The Hong Kong Construction Association indicated that they had no objection to the proposal provided that the construction works already started and are being carried out in the new "Designated Areas" would not be affected. The Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) agreed with the need for an update to take account of new residential developments, but was opposed to establishing as "Designated Areas" those locations the new residential blocks at which have yet to start taking in population.
6. We have carefully considered these views. We propose to establish the new "Designated Areas" marked green at Annex with effective from 1 December 2001 so as to give the construction industry a grace period. The new "Designated Areas" exclude locations where the new residential blocks are not expected to start taking in population for at least three years. These should address the concerns of the construction industry and MTRC without compromising the well-being of residents. We will review the need for establishing more "Designated Areas" once every three years.
7. Our plan is to consult the Legislative Council on the proposal in May 2001.
8. The proposal will provide residents in the new "Designated Areas" with the same protection as those in the existing "Designated Areas". It is estimated that more than 150,000 residents will benefit from the implementation of the proposal.
9. As the proposal will reduce construction noise impact on residents, we expect the community to welcome the proposal.
10. Members are requested to advise on the proposal.
Environmental and Food Bureau