29. Given the time constraint, the Chairman asked the Secretary to draft the report based on the discussion at the last meeting and circulate it to Members for consolidation.
Agenda Item 5 : Improvement to Tung Chung Road between Lung Tseng Tau and Cheung Sha
(ACE-EIA Paper 15/2001)
30. The Chairman welcomed SE(NSL)/HyD, PD/MAL, EIATL/MAL and ETL/MAL to the meeting. SE(NSL)/HyD started off with the background of the project, followed by a detailed comparison of the alignment options by PD/MAL. SE(NSL)/HyD then highlighted the future usage of obsolete sections of Tung Chung Road.
31. In response to the Chairman's question, PD/MAL said that they intended to submit the EIA report to EPD in mid-February 2002.
32. Noting that a twin tube tunnel with two lanes in each tube as proposed in options N3 and N4 would be more costly and cause more adverse environmental impacts, a Member asked whether the consultants had considered building a single tube tunnel for one way traffic while using the existing Tung Chung Road for opposite traffic. In reply, SE(NSL)/HyD said that they had considered the combination. PD/MAL elaborated that using the existing Tung Chung Road for one-way traffic road was not favoured due to its substandard design. Even if the tunnel were single-tubed, considerable earthwork would still be required which would not only have adverse impacts on the nearby streams but also increase the construction costs.
33. On a Member's question on vehicular speed of the new road, PD/MAL said that the design speed would be 70 km per hour but the maximum speed allowed would be set at 50 km per hour for the sake of safety. SE(NSL)/HyD elaborated that only the radii of curvatures at the road bends could meet the design standard of 70 km per hour. The maximum gradient of the road would be 15% and hence the maximum speed allowed would be set at 50 km per hour.
34. As a follow up question, a Member asked whether there would be any benefits in terms of site footprint and environmental impacts if the road was designed to a standard lower than 70 km per hour. In response, PD/MAL explained that there would be no difference because the preferred alignment was relatively straight and there was no point in designing the road bends to a lower design standard.
35. A Member felt that the provision of roads often failed to catch up with rising demand. He appreciated the importance of conserving the natural environment of Hong Kong but it was equally important to allow room for economic growth, in this case tourism, by designing a road to accommodate the future demand. In this regard, he asked whether the project proponent had taken into account potential demand from both local residents and overseas tourists. In response, PD/MAL said that as a usual practice for this kind of development project, they had considered the estimated population figures and other planning assumptions in the South West New Territories Development Strategy Review (SWNTDSR) provided by the Planning Department. SD(NSL)/HyD supplemented that Planning Department had advised that South Lantau would be used for conservation and recreation purposes. According to the traffic forecast which had taken into account the cable car project, the new road upon completion could cater for traffic demand for 15 years.
36. A Member asked whether the project proponent would take into account the traffic demand in the event that a link with Zhuhai was established in the near future. SE(NSL)/HyD said that traffic forecast was based on planning assumptions in the SWNTDSR given by the Planning Department. Another Member pointed out that the Subcommittee had supported the plan to develop South Lantau for conservation and recreation purposes as set out in the SWNTDSR. Hence, it was important that while catering for traffic demand, the primary objective of the project was to improve the safety of Tung Chung Road with minimum impacts on the environment. A third Member agreed.
37. A Member noted that a pipe would be installed to carry away site run-offs from the road at the construction stage. He asked whether the pipe would become a permanent feature upon completion of the project. PD/MAL said the pipe would be maintained to collect road runoff after completion of the road so as to reduce pollution to the Tung Chung Stream.
38. Referring to Section A-A on Annex D of the paper, a Member asked whether the grassed verge could be used as a cycling path for the local residents who had raised this question to him. In reply, PD/MAL said that the road was not recommended for cycling as it was too steep for that purpose.
39. In reply to a Member's question on the need for the grassed verge, SE(NSL)/HyD said that a 2-meter wide verge was the minimum requirement to accommodate the existing and planned utility services required.
40. In reply to a Member's question, PD/MAL said that S1 would cause less noise impacts than S3 because the villages were located more closely to S3 than to S1 and the plantation woodland along S1 could help screening off Cheung Sha Sheung Tsuen from traffic noise
41. On a Member's question, PD/MAL said that they would minimize the visual impacts for S1 by putting screen planting on the short retaining wall in front of the road to help mask it at the hillside. The plantation woodland alongside the section of the road could also serve to reduce the visual impacts.
42. A Member noted that Annex D showed that there would be 12 bridges on the proposed alignment and urged the consultants to pay special attention to the construction impacts of the bridges to the streams in the EIA. PD/MAL replied that the impacts would be assessed in the EIA report.
43. The Chairman thanked the proponent and consultants for the briefing and emphasized that the exchange of views would not pre-empt the future discussion and views of the Subcommittee when the EIA report was formally submitted under the EIAO.
Agenda Item 6 : Any Other Business
Monthly Update of Applications under EIAO
44. Members noted the updates.
Tentative Items for Next Meeting
45. The Chairman informed Members that the EIA report on "Demolition of Kwai Chung Incineration Plant" was scheduled for discussion at the next meeting. Also, the representatives of the Hong Kong Construction Association would discuss with the Subcommittee the importance of ensuring the practicability of mitigation measures.
46. The Chairman relayed the request from the Transport Bureau that KCRC would like to have an informal dialogue with the Subcommittee to exchange views on the Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line project on 19 November 2001. Two Members recalled that at the last ACE meeting, the Chairman also encouraged the project proponent to have an early exchange of views with the Subcommittee before formal submission of the EIA report under the EIAO.
47 Two Members said that since the project proponent had already briefed Members on their new option, an informal dialogue would only be useful if KCRC had new information or data about the EIA study and would address Members' concerns raised previously. The Secretary confirmed that that was the intention of the Transport Bureau and KCRC when they made the request.