Report of the 50th Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee Meeting
(ACE Paper 51/99)
At its meeting on 13 December 1999, the Subcommittee considered:
- the EIA report of the Route 10 - North Lantau to Yuen Long Highway (Southern Section); and
- the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Planning and Development Study on North West New Territories.
2. Members are requested to advise whether the EIA report at 1(a) above should be endorsed and to note the Subcommittee's comments on the EA at 1(b) above.
VIEWS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE
Route 10 - North Lantau to Yuen Long Highways (Southern Section)
(ACE EIA Paper 30/99)
3. According to Highways Department, the only external road access for Lantau and the new airport at Chek Lap Kok is the Lantau Link. There will be no road access between Lantau and the rest of the territory in the event of closure of the Lantau Link. Route 10 North Lantau to Yuen Long Highway will serve as an alternative road link to Lantau and connection with the North West New Territories. It is also required to meet the forecast traffic demand generated by cross boundary activities and by the anticipated population and economic growth in North West New Territories.
4. The major environmental issues identified are noise, water quality and ecology. On noise, upon exhausting all practicable direct mitigation measures, residual road traffic noise impacts are still expected at the Hong Kong Gardens. About 260 dwellings would be eligible for indirect technical remedies in the form of window insulation and air-conditioning, subject to ExCo approval.
5. On water quality, the combined dredging rate will be controlled within acceptable limit to protect the Ma Wan Fish Culture Zone from unacceptable water impact due to the cumulative effects from the reclamation at Penny's Bay and dredging at the Dangerous Goods Anchorage at Tang Lung Chau. Other mitigation measures such as the use of closed and sealed grabs will also be implemented.
6. On Ecology, 10 ha of compensatory planting is recommended to compensate for the total loss of approximately 1ha of woodland. The overall direct impact of the dredging/reclamation works is considered to be localised and acceptable. For the underwater blasting works which may result in direct impact to the Chinese White Dolphin and the Ma Wan Fish Culture Zone, mitigation measures including the placing of charges in cores within the rock are proposed. The overall residual ecological impact is considered acceptable.
Views and Recommendations of EIA Subcommittee Members
7. Subcommittee members discussed the report at the meeting. Their main concerns were on the division of the Southern section and the Northern section of Route 10 into two separate EIA studies, the ecological impact, the alignment option and the need of the project.
8. On the division of the project into two EIA studies, the proponent explained that it was necessary to go ahead with the study on Southern section first since it involved the most complicated and time-consuming task, the construction of Tsing Lung Bridge, of the entire project. The EIA of the Northern section was under process and would address the cumulative impact of both sections. The proponent also undertook that no construction work would commence before the EIA report of the Northern section was completed and endorsed.
9. On ecological impact, the proponent confirmed that the air bubble curtain, which was one of the proposed mitigation measures, was proven to be effective in minimizing the impact of underwater noise to Chinese White Dolphin. For compensatory re-planting, the proponent clarified that the estimated working area had already been taken into account when calculating the 0.2 ha loss of Fung Shui woodland. The proponent undertook to provide the Subcommittee the detailed tree survey of the Fung Shui woodland and the finalized plan of compensatory re-planting and transplanting for reference once finalized. A total of 10 ha re-planting would be provided for compensating the loss of about 1 ha woodland area on the whole.
10. On alignment options, the proponent stated that the Preferred Alternative Alignment (PAA) was more favourable as compared to the Feasibility Study Alignment (FSA) due to technical reasons as well as environmental considerations. With the PAA, the reclamation area would be reduced and resumption of the villages at Fa Peng and Tso Wan could be avoided. The proponent also stated that the location and the design of the toll plaza would be further reviewed, subject to on-going discussion with relevant departments on the required standards.
11. On the need of the project, the proponent further explained that apart from the justification mentioned in paragraph 3 above, the project was considered to be urgently necessary by various studies such as the Feasibility Study for Additional Cross-border Links, the Northshore Lantau Development Feasibility Study, the Third Comprehensive Transport Study and the Route 10 Study itself. In addition to the cross-border activities, this project would cater for the developments in the North West New Territories (NWNT) and Lantau. Members however expressed strong concerns on the lack of an overall picture on the potential development of Lantau while various EIA studies related to the Island were yet to be finalized. There was also reservation on the further expansion of road network instead of railway system. Subcommittee members suggested that the Council should be asked to consider the justifications for the road project in more details.
12. Subject to further deliberation on the justification of the project at the next ACE meeting, the Subcommittee agreed to recommend to the Council to endorse the report with the following conditions:
- construction of the Southern section of Route 10 would not commence until the EIA report of the Northern section was completed and endorsed;
- when the EIA report for the Northern section was submitted under the EIA Ordinance, the cumulative environmental impact of both the Southern and Northern sections of Route 10 and all relevant findings and recommendations in both EIA studies could be subject to review; and
- the findings of the design review study of the toll plaza would be submitted to the Subcommittee once finalized.
Planning and Development Study on North West New Territory
(ACE EIA Paper 31/99)
13. In view of the findings of the Territory Development Strategic Review (TDSR) completed in mid 1996, Planning Department and Territory Development Department have jointly commissioned a study to identify Strategic Growth Area(s) (SGA) in North West New Territory for accommodation of a strategic population growth of 100,000 people.
14. Hung Shui Kui was identified in the Study as a potential site for SGA development in NWNT. A Preliminary Outline Development Plan for the SGA was initially prepared and the environmental constraints associated with the development were identified under the Environmental Assessment (EA).
15. Members of the Environmental Study Management Group considered that the EA had demonstrated environmental feasibility for the proposed development in the Hung Shui Kiu SGA provided that all necessary environmental measures are fully implemented. Comments from the public and ACE will be taken into account in the forthcoming statutory EIA study.
17. Members noted that under certain criteria such as the availability of infrastructural support, environmental sensitivity as well as potential employment opportunity, HSK was considered the preferred option for strategic growth in NWNT. The Administration was committed in allowing flexibility in the application of environmental friendly technologies such as the use of solar energy and electric vehicles in HSK right from the planning stage. The provision of open space/amenity areas/green belts within the SGA would be above the levels required in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines as far as practicable. The "zero-discharge" policy in relation to the Deep Bay would be strictly observed in the design of the drainage system.
18. On the rail noise impact, the proponent confirmed that discussions between KCRC and the Administration on the funding arrangement for the provision of noise barrier was still on-going. But the recommended noise mitigation measures would be implemented in accordance with the EIA report irrespective of the final funding arrangement. The proponent also stated that while the regional air quality problem would have an effect on the air quality of HSK, it was predicted that with the proposed buffer zones along the major strategic roads, the air pollutant concentrations in the area would comply with the Air Quality Objectives.
19. The Chairman concluded that the new concepts in planning and design of HSK were welcomed and supported by the Subcommittee. Apart from the problem of regional air quality which would affect the new town, potential difficulties in restricting entry of more polluting vehicles into HSK would also need to be carefully studied. Some suggestions were made by Subcommittee members for consideration in the detailed design stage: