Advisory Council on the Environment

Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap. 499)

(ACE-EIA Paper 1/2001)
For discussion




This paper sets out general background information about the operation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) so as to facilitate smooth proceeding of meetings. Members may wish to consider whether changes are necessary.


2. The ACE is Government's advisory body on matters related to pollution control and protection of the environment. The Council's 23 members are appointed by the Chief Executive. The terms of reference of ACE are as follows :

  1. keep under review the state of the environment in Hong Kong; and
  2. advise the Government, through the Secretary for the Environment and Food, on appropriate measures which might be taken to combat pollution of all kinds, and to protect and sustain the environment.

Objective of the EIA Subcommittee

3. The EIA Subcommittee is set up under the ACE to study EIA reports of major development projects. It also comments on strategic environmental assessment reports of major planning projects. The terms of reference of the Subcommittee are as follows :

  1. to receive and study EIA reports of major development projects; and
  2. to report on its deliberations and findings and make recommendations to the ACE.

EIA Process

4. At present, the ACE and the EIA Subcommittee are involved in three main stages of the EIA process, namely commenting on the project profiles, selection of EIA reports for submission to ACE and commenting on selected EIA reports. Proponents of public work projects would as far as practicable obtain approval for the EIA report before gazettal of the projects concerned. However, consultation with District Councils and other relevant parties can proceed in parallel with the submission of EIA reports to the Subcommittee.

Membership of the EIA Subcommittee

5. The membership list of the Subcommittee is at Annex A.

Modus Operandi of the EIA Subcommittee

6. The Subcommittee normally meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of every month. The meeting schedule is at Annex B. The Subcommittee usually considers no more than three EIA reports in each meeting. Recommendations of the Subcommittee will be presented to the ACE for consideration.

7. The Environmental Protection Department will prepare a paper for the EIA Subcommittee highlighting the salient points about the EIA study. The project proponent, where applicable, would provide the Subcommittee with a report on the site selection process of the project, setting out the alternative sites that have been considered and the reasons of the selection of the particular site. The paper, the EIA report and the site report, if any, will normally be issued to Members of the Subcommittee three Fridays before the scheduled meeting. Members will be asked to indicate one week before the scheduled meeting date whether it is necessary for the project proponents to come to the meeting and discuss the report with them. Project proponents will be informed accordingly before the scheduled meeting.

9. Members of the Subcommittee may raise questions in writing on EIA reports before the scheduled meeting and the project proponent should provide written response to the Secretariat at least one working day before the meeting.

10. Each EIA report presented to the EIA Subcommittee will be given a maximum of one hour, which would include presentation by the project proponent, a Question-and-Answer session and members' internal discussion. The Subcommittee would allocate as much time to the Question-and-Answer session as possible. The time allocation is generally as follows :

Presentation by project proponent
Questions and Answers
Subcommittee internal discussion
      5 minutes
45-50 minutes
5-10 minutes

11. The presentation by project proponent is brief and covers only the major conclusions and recommendations of the EIAs. A copy of the Subcommittee's Rules of Operation is at Annex C.

EIA Subcommittee Secretariat
March 2001


Annex A

Advisory Council on the Environment
Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee
Membership List (1 January 2001 - 31 December 2001)

Professor Lam Kin-che

Deputy Chairman
Mr Otto Poon Lok-to

Mr Barrie Cook

Professor Anthony Hedley, BBS, JP

Dr Ho Kin-chung

Mr. Peter Y C Lee

Mr Lin Chaan-ming

Dr Ng Cho-nam

Miss Yau Shuk-kau, Alex

Mr Plato Yip


Annex B


19 March (Mon)
9 April (Mon)
7 May (Mon)
4 June (Mon)
9 July (Mon)
6 August (Mon)
3 September (Mon)
8 October (Mon)
5 November (Mon)
3 December (Mon)

Annex C


1. Criteria for assessing EIA reports

1.1 Criteria for assessing EIA reports are as follows-

     Scope Methodology All major and significant impacts should be included.
     Methodology It should be appropriate and reasonably accurate.
     Cumulative impacts They should be assessed and taken into consideration wherever possible.
     Mitigation measures They should be adequate and effective.
     Excessive residual impacts It should be satisfied that they could not be reduced by best available and practical means. Other considerations include : is damage irreversible? Are residual impacts acceptable?
     Monitoring and auditing programme It should be practical and effective. There should be provisions for contingencies.

1.2 The Subcommittee will make suggestions for the consideration of the project proponents/EPD/consultants if it considers that the EIA reports do not fully meet the above criteria.

2. Recommendations to the Full Council

2.1 The Subcommittee can make one of the following recommendations to the full Council :

  1. endorse the EIA report;
  2. endorse the EIA report with conditions; or
  3. reject the EIA report but inform the proponent the right to go to the full Council.

2.2 If the Subcommittee cannot reach a conclusion (i.e. if two or more members do not agree with the conclusion of the Subcommittee) during the meeting, it may

  1. ask for a second submission to the Subcommittee; or
  2. defer decision to the full Council, highlight issues or reasons for not reaching a consensus for the full Council's deliberation;

2.3 Other than the scenario in 2.2(ii) or the Subcommittee Chairman considers it appropriate, the recommendations of the Subcommittee will not be discussed in detail in the full Council.

3. Logistics of EIA Subcommittee meetings

3.1 The quorum for Subcommittee meetings should be five Members including the Chairman.

3.2 EIA Subcommittee Members should declare direct and indirect interest before deliberating on agenda items so that the Chairman could decide whether they should take part in the discussion or to vote.

3.3 The confirmed minutes of the Subcommittee (with Members' names deleted) are uploaded to the EFB website for public inspection.

3.4 Subcommittee meetings are not open to the public.

3.5 Special meetings may be called to consider urgent items. The Subcommittee will consider each case individually should there be requests for direct submission to the full Council.

3.6 There will not be a limit on the number of professional experts to be invited to each Subcommittee meeting for items requiring their assistance. In those cases and where votes are taken, these experts shall not vote.

EIA Subcommittee Secretariat
March 2001


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