Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 70th Meeting of the Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 27 May 2002 at 4:00pm


Professor LAM Kin-che (Chairman)  
Mr. Otto POON (Deputy Chairman)  
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming  
Dr. NG Cho-nam  
Mrs. Mei NG  
Miss Alex YAU  
Miss Petula POON (Secretary)  

Absent with Apology:

Mr. Barrie COOK  
Professor Anthony HEDLEY, BBS, JP  
Dr. HO Kin-chung  
Mr. Peter Y C LEE,  

In Attendance:

Mr. Elvis AU Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment & Noise), Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
Mr. C C LAY Assistant Director (Conservation), Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD)
Ms. Cora SO Executive Officer (C), Environment and Food Bureau

In Attendance for Agenda Item 3:

Mr. W C CHAN Deputy Project Manager (MW2), Highways Department (HyD)
Mr. LI Wai Senior Engineer (NSL), HyD
Mr. T H LEUNG Engineer, Transport Department
Mr. Simon ILLINGWORTH Project Manager, Mouchel Asia Ltd.
Ms. Helen COCHRANE EIA Team Leader, Mouchel Asia Ltd.
Mr. Shaun NICHOLSON Ecologist, Mouchel Asia Ltd.
Dr. Mike LEVEN Director, Asia Ecological Consultants Ltd.
Mr. Simon HUI Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit), EPD
Mr. S C HO Senior Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit)1, EPD
Mr. Cary HO Senior Natural Conservation Officer (South), AFCD




Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 66th, 67th, 68th & 69th Meetings

The minutes were confirmed subject to amendments proposed by a Member to draft minutes of the 66th and 67th meetings.

Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising

2. There were no matters arising from the last meeting.

Informal dialogue

3. The Chairman said that at the Council meeting held in December 2001, the Subcommittee was tasked to re-examine whether minutes of meetings should be kept for informal dialogues with project proponents and to report back to the Council. The purpose of informal dialogues was to provide an opportunity for project proponents to highlight areas of concern and issues of contention, identify different views and explore common grounds to resolve conflicts before formal submission of the EIA reports.

4. Mr. Elvis Au pointed out that such dialogues were becoming popular in the United States because the process was likely to lead to more constructive conclusions. Mr. C C Lay also observed at the last EIA congress that informal dialogues were useful in providing a forum for Members to better understand the various stages involved in a project before narrowing down to a preferred option.

5. The Chairman said that the verdict of the appeal case on the Spur Line suggested that early and open dialogues between the project proponent and parties concerned would facilitate the EIA process. If time permitted, the Subcommittee should welcome opportunities for early dialogue on projects with significant potential impact or those which would impinge on sensitive areas. Such dialogues should be initiated by the project proponent. He then referred to the "points for discussion" tabled and invited Members' comments.

6. A Member said that since informal dialogues were conducted outside the provisions of the EIA Ordinance and project proponents were unlikely to provide comprehensive information about the projects, Members' views should not be taken as final and minutes of the dialogues were therefore not necessary.

7. A Member agreed with the Chairman that early dialogues were warranted for projects with significant potential impact and that they should be initiated by the project proponent. Regarding minutes of the dialogues, he was of the opinion that a record should be kept for the internal reference of the Subcommittee but should not be released to the project proponent. The record should be circulated to Members for necessary amendment.

8. A Member suggested that as the purpose of the dialogues were to highlight issues of concern, the format of the record could be issue-based with a summary of the comments raised by Members and response provided by the project proponent without mentioning who said what.

9. A Member asked apart from project proponents whether the Subcommittee would consider having dialogues with stakeholders, independent experts and non-Government organizations. She considered that there were merits for having Subcommittee-initiated dialogues. The criteria for accepting or rejecting informal dialogues should be established to provide a clear guidance to those concerned. The timing of informal dialogues was also important lest the project proponent would make use of Members' views during an informal dialogue to back up the project when they consulted other bodies. There were also worries that the project proponent might make a lot of efforts to lobby Members during informal dialogue and neglect formal consultation with the Subcommittee. Also, too many dialogue meetings would increase the burden of Members who already had a heavy schedule of meetings to consider reports submitted formally under the EIA Ordinance.

10. A Member pointed out that early dialogues were conducted partly in response to the verdict of the Spur Line appeal. Regarding dialogues with stakeholders and other bodies, as EPD was the authority to approve or reject EIA reports, it was more appropriate for EPD rather than the Subcommittee to hear comments from those bodies.

11. The Chairman emphasized that the Council's statutory role was to advise Director of Environmental Protection its views on EIA reports. The Subcommittee could seek expert advice on issues on a need basis. A Member concurred with the Chairman and recalled that the Subcommittee had sought advice from dolphin and dragonfly experts on two occasions in the past.

12. Taking into account Members' comments, the Chairman concluded that the Secretariat should keep brief notes on informal dialogues with project proponents and should circulate the notes to Members for amendments, if any. The notes would not be issued to the project proponent and Members' views expressed during the dialogue would not be reported back to the Council.

Informal dialogue on Shenzhen Western Corridor

13. A Member understood that the proponent of the Shenzhen Western Corridor project might circulate a draft EIA report to Members for the informal dialogue scheduled for the next meeting. She did not consider it appropriate for the project proponent to do so for after all informal dialogues were different from formal consultation under the statutory EIA process. Another Member shared that Member's concern.

14. The Chairman asked the Secretariat to explain the situation to the project proponent and request them to highlight issues of concern rather than to send in a draft EIA report. The Secretariat

Agenda Item 3 : Improvement to Tung Chung Road between Lung Tseng Tau and Cheung Sha(ACE-EIA Paper 8/2002)

15. Noting that the project site was within the water gathering ground managed by the Water Services Department (WSD), a Member asked whether EPD and WSD would jointly monitor the water quality impact of the project. In response, Mr. Au said that WSD was a member of the Environmental Study Management Group and EPD would liaise closely with WSD during the implementation stage of the project.

[The proponent team was invited into the meeting room at this juncture.]

16. The Chairman welcomed Mr. W C Chan et. al. to the meeting. Mr. Simon Illingworth presented the EIA to Members.

17. The Chairman commended the efforts that the consultants had put in the EIA report, in particular the section on ecological assessment and the innovative design for managing site run-off.

Width of grassed verge and footway of on-line section

18. A Member asked whether the provision of a 2m footway and a 1.6m grassed verge was necessary to accommodate new utilities. In reply, Mr. Illingworth explained that the space under the carriage way and the verge on the other side of the road would be occupied by drainage pipes and existing utilities respectively. Thus, the new utilities and the gas main could only be accommodated under the 1.6m grassed verge and the 2m footway. However, for the off-line section, most of the new utilities could go underneath the existing carriage way which would become obsolete upon completion of the project.

19. In response to that Member's question on the possibility of putting all the new utilities under the grassed verge, Mr. Illingworth said it was impossible because the ground under the verge was already congested with utility services like cables and junction boxes. No other utilities should be placed on top of the gas main for safety reason.

20. Noting that the 132kV cables were to be put under the carriageway, a Member queried the practicality of the proposal and pointed out that the drainage system would be interrupted in case of cable repairs. Mr. Illingworth agreed with that Member and said that the China Light & Power (CLP) had requested them to move the cables to the ground underneath the grassed verge.

21. A Member asked whether it was feasible to put all the utility services into a common duct instead of spreading them underneath the footway. In response, Mr. Illingworth said that there would be problems with the construction of a common duct and it might end up with more construction work. The 1.6m grassed verge was only required for the on-line section which took up about 35% of the length of the whole improved road. The impact would not be significant.

22. A Member asked whether CLP was required to seek permission to decommission the overhead cables and replace them with underground cables. Mr. Illingworth said CLP seemed to have discussed the proposal with EPD.

23. In response to the Chairman's question, Mr. Illingworth confirmed that the width of the grassed verge and the footway of the on-line section could not be further reduced.

Drainage pipes for collecting run-off

24. The Chairman enquired about the likelihood of the sediments of the road surface run-off choking the drainage pipe. In response,

Mr. Illingworth explained that the drainage pipe would be fitted with gratings so that it was unlikely for large sediments to enter the system which would operate on a self-flushing basis.

25. A Member queried the need for the 3.5m maintenance access road if the drainage pipe was self-flushing. In response, Mr. Illingworth clarified that the access would only be required for the section between Shek Mun Kap and Lung Tseng Tau. Although the pipe was expected to be self-flushing, access was required in case of damage. The access road could be used as a future cycle track and would be constructed on top of the drainage pipe.

Effectiveness of sedimentation tanks

26. The Chairman relayed a Member's query about the effectiveness of the sedimentation tanks to attain the effluent standard of 25ppm. In response, Mr. Illingworth pointed out that the proposed size of the tanks was already at a maximum with acceptable construction impact. They proposed to install a filter system in the tanks to attain the standard aimed. The detailed design of the tanks would be circulated to government departments at the next stage and the operation would be audited under the EM&A programme.

27 The Chairman enquired about measures to be included in the EM&A programme to ensure that the standard was met. In response, Ms. Helen Cochrane said that they proposed daily and weekly monitoring of the relevant parameters at various points along the alignment. In case of exceedances, the contractor would make necessary rectifications.

28. The Chairman was concerned that the exceedances could not be rectified in time should the filter system require retrofitting. In response, Mr. Illingworth said that they would consider installing more filters along the drainage channel. Ms. Cochrane explained that the chance of exceedances was insignificant, as the site runoff would be discharged to different catchments.

29. In reply to a Member's enquiry, Mr. Illingworth said that the drainage system would cover the bus-bays and an oil interceptor would be installed at the roundabout upstream of the southern discharge to preserve the Cheung Sha Beach.

Impact from elevated structures

30. A Member asked how the impact of the elevated structures, in particular the bridges across the streams, could be minimized. In response, Mr. Illingworth explained that the span of the bridges would generally be no more than 30m so that they could use pre-cast beams or falsework to avoid impacting on the streams. It was not certain how the detailed designs would be but it would probably be a mixture of pre-cast beams over straight sections and in-situ concrete over curved sections. For haul roads, they would use temporary bridges.

31. A Member asked whether construction would be carried out during dry season to minimize the risk of run-off down the streams. In response, Mr. Illingworth clarified that there would not be any difference in constructing the elevated structures in wet or dry seasons as no impact on the streams was anticipated. However, for sensitive streams where new culverts would be built, construction work would be carried out in dry season and non-breeding season as far as practicable.

32. A Member asked whether the impact would be reduced if steel structures were used for bridges. Mr. Illingworth said that steel structures would require painting and might not be more environmentally friendly than concrete.

Noise impact arising from existing road

33. In response to a Member's enquiry, Ms. Cochrane explained that the exceedances in noise level shown in Table 5.22 of the EIA report were arising from the existing Tung Chung Road and not from the section of Tung Chung Road to be improved under this project. The Highways Department would review the situation upon commissioning of the project and, if necessary, initiate action to include that section of the existing Tung Chung Road into the retrofitting programme for existing roads.

Translocation programme for species of conservation importance

34. In reply to a Member's enquiry on the translocation programme, Ms. Cochrane said that the detailed specifications would be drawn up at the design phase of the EM&A. Mr. Shuan Nicholson pointed out that the experience in translocating the Romer's Tree Frog in the Chek Lap Kok Airport project demonstrated that translocation was feasible.

35. A Member enquired about the rationale for translocating the affected species to a nearby area bearing in mind that the species concerned already existed in that area, whether construction work would start only after the programme was proved successful, and whether the species would be moved back to the project site upon completion of works. In response, Dr. Mike Leven confirmed that the species would be located to a nearby habitat. Unlike the Chek Lap Kok project where the habitat was destroyed permanently, the habitat affected in the project would be restored to a condition suitable for the species after construction was completed. The translocation programme would not involve an entire population but a number of individuals only and it would not be necessary to move the individuals back to the site.

36. A Member asked whether it would be a better option to keep the affected individuals in a laboratory and release them back to the original habitats when the construction works was finished. In response, Dr. Leven commented that the proposal was plausible but unnecessary.

37. In response to a Member's question, Mr. Nicholson said that it was proposed in the EM&A Manual that the monitoring on the translocation programme would last for twelve months after the commissioning of the improved road.

38. A Member asked what actions would be taken if the project proponent failed to find the translocated species during the monitoring period. In response, Dr. Leven said that the detailed action plan would be prepared at the detailed design stage. In the worst-case scenario, it would be possible to introduce the species back to the habitats.

39. Mr. Cary Ho confirmed that in line with the usual arrangement, the mitigation measures would be incorporated into the conditions of the environmental permit. EPD in collaboration with AFCD would ensure the comprehensiveness of the proposed measures.

Compensation planting

40. A Member commented that whilst the 25.45 ha of compensation planting would mitigate for the loss of visual and landscaping value, it was not certain how it could translate into ecological value.

41. In response, Dr. Leven explained that the area of compensation planting was more than double of the loss of woodland and shrubland. That was meant to compensate for the loss of the ecological value of the woodland and shrubland in the long term. He then drew Members' attention to Table 8.31 of the report which showed the details of the compensation planting programme.

42. A Member asked whether there were other measures for slope enhancement apart from hydroseeding. In response, Dr. Leven said that the Geotechnical Engineering Office had set out in their Good Practice Manual a list of treatment for slope enhancement. At the detailed design stage, the engineers would advise on measures that were possible in engineering terms and the ecologists would decide on option(s) that would maximize the ecological value.

43. In response to a Member's question on the implementation schedule and the monitoring of native woodland planting, Mr. Illingworth said that planting would be carried out in parallel with the construction work of the road. Ms. Cochrane said that monitoring would be carried out for 24 months after planting.

Visual impacts

44. A Member said that the cut slope on the southern section of the road from Pak Kung Ngau was visually intrusive and asked whether there were any measures to minimize the impacts. In response, Mr. Illingworth said that the retaining walls on both the downhill side and uphill side of the road were meant to reduce the footprint of the project. On the downhill side, trees and creepers would be planted in front of the wall to hide the road in the long run. However, on the uphill side, only limited planting could be done in planters attached to the front face of the retaining wall since no grassed verge was provided to minimize the footprint of the works. As regards bridges, although no planting could be provided, the visual impacts of those which were over stream courses shaded by trees would be minimized. In the short term, visual impacts were inevitable but in the long run when the plantings mature they would be able to hide the road.

Disposal of materials resulting from vegetation clearance

45. A Member noticed in Table 7.3 of the report that 4,824 tonnes of vegetation clearance would be disposed in landfill and asked whether there were alternative methods to dispose or reuse them. In response, Mr. Illingworth said that there were no local facilities to compost the materials but they would liaise with AFCD and other relevant government departments to see if the materials could be reused in habilitation planting. Ms. Cochrane supplemented that the materials could be compressed before disposal in landfill to help save landfill capacity.

46. A Member suggested using the tree trunks as fences in country parks. Mr. Illingworth said they had considered that and learned that AFCD would only accept trunks of certain sizes. They would liaise closely with the department for such opportunities. The Chairman commented that the proposal might form a good example for future highway projects. Mr. Cary Ho said that logs from past highway projects had indeed been used to make tables, chairs and fences in country parks. However, not all materials were suitable for the purpose.

Impacts on field cattle

47. The Chairman informed the project proponent about the concern of a member of the public about the impacts of the project on feral bovids (field cattle) in the project area. In response, Dr. Leven said that field cattle were not found near the site and therefore not a concern for the project. In any case, whether the cattle were an advantage to the environment was debatable as they grazed on certain plant species.

Impacts on country park

48. In reply to a Member's question, Mr. Illingworth said that the project would affect about 5 ha of country park. A combination of compensation/mitigation measures including compensation planting was proposed in the EIA report.

49. In response to a Member's question, Mr. Illingworth confirmed that they had consulted the Country and Marine Parks Board on the project and would discuss the EIA report of the project with the Board in the near future.

Transportation of waste materials

50. Noting that 15,000 truck trips would be required to transport waste materials from the site, a Member asked whether there was any traffic management in place to minimize emissions from the trucks.

51. In response, Ms. Cochrane said that compared to the whole Tung Chung Road, emissions from the trucks concerned would be insignificant. The truck routes would be diverted to minimize impacts on residential areas. Mr. Illingworth supplemented that they had carried out a traffic impact assessment for the project. The existing road was subject to user control. The operation of the improved road would be subject to similar control. The maximum number of construction vehicles allowed on the road at any one time would be recommended at a later stage.

52. A Member referred to Table 2.11 of the report and queried the high percentage (34%) of road usage by heavy vehicles for the northern section. In response, Mr. Illingworth explained that since only residents in Lantau could obtain a closed-road permit, the proportion of non-private vehicles such as franchised buses and goods vehicles would be relatively higher.

Robust EM&A and management of contractors

53. The Chairman stressed the importance of a robust EM&A programme to ensure timely rectifications for unexpected problems.

54. Having regard to past records of poor site practices on Lantau which was of high conservation value, a Member urged the proponent to monitor the work of the contractors rigorously. The project proponent noted Members' concerns.

Conclusion and recommendations

55. The Chairman proposed and Members agreed to recommend the EIA report to the Council for endorsement with the following conditions:

     (a) there should be a robust EM&A programme to improve the effectiveness of the sedimentation tanks and appropriate measures (such as filter system) would be incorporated, if necessary; and
  (b) the project proponent should liaise with AFCD and other Government departments on the beneficial use of the materials resulting from vegetation clearance so as to reduce the amount to be taken to the landfills.

Agenda Item 4 : Fill Bank at Tseung Kwan O Area 137
(ACE-EIA Paper 7/2002)

56. Having considered the EIA report and the ACE-EIA paper, Members agreed that the Subcommittee would recommend the EIA report to the Council for endorsement without conditions and that there was no need for the project proponent to make a presentation at the meeting.

Agenda Item 5 : Any Other Business

Tentative schedule for next meeting

57. The Chairman informed Members that a meeting would be held on 3 June 2002 at 4:00pm to discuss the final soil quality report arising from the Kai Tak Airport North Apron Decommissioning project. After the meeting, there would be an informal dialogue with the project proponent to discuss the preliminary EIA findings of the Shenzhen Western Corridor project.

58. A Member regretted that she had another commitment on 3 June and asked if the discussion on the final soil quality report could be rescheduled so that she could discuss the issue of quality standards with the project proponent. In response, Mr. Au said that the project proponent intended to commission construction works in Areas 1A and 1B which were outside the contamination hotspots in early July 2002. The works concerned would be held up if the discussion were to be postponed to the meeting in July.

59. The Chairman pointed out that the issues on soil standards had been dealt with when the Subcommittee and the Council considered the EIA report. The concern of the Subcommittee would be whether the results of the soil quality report indicated that the decontamination works had complied with the agreed standards

60. Mr. Elvis Au updated Members that the EIA on Yuen Long, Kam Tin Sewerage and Sewage Disposal Stage I was scheduled for the meeting on 8 July 2002. Another possible item would be the EIA report on aviation fuel pipelines.

Agenda Item 6 : Date of Next Meeting

61. The next meeting was scheduled for 3 June 2002.

EIA Subcommittee Secretariat
June 2002


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