Public consultation launched on banning idling engines

Press Release

Public consultation launched on banning idling engines

The Government today (November 2) launched a public consultation on a proposal to ban idling vehicle engines.

“The local community is very concerned about air pollution and the Government is determined to take all necessary action to improve air quality,” the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau said as he unveiled the Government proposal.
“Hong Kong’s high road traffic density and the high urban density impedes dispersion of air pollutants emitted by motor vehicles and traps them at street level.

“Some drivers do not switch off their vehicle engines while waiting so they can enjoy the comfort of air-conditioning. These vehicles cause heat and emission nuisance to the pedestrians and shops nearby. The problem is more apparent during bad air pollution days and summer time,”Mr Yau said.

“To idle a vehicle’s engine not only wastes fuel but also accelerates the deterioration of its engine oils and engine components. Both the environment and vehicle owners would be better off if engines are switched off,” he said.

“Despite the inconvenience for drivers and passengers, we believe that the community should look at the proposal with regard to the overall interest of the public at large. Introducing a statutory ban to require switching off the engines of idling vehicles will underline the community’s resolve to tackle air pollution,” he said.

In the light of overseas practice, the operational needs of certain vehicles and having regard to the comments received in the last consultation exercise in 2000-01, it is proposed to grant exemption to-

• Vehicles stopped at roadside for active boarding or alighting
• First two taxis/public light buses (PLBs) at a taxi/PLB stand
• Taxis, PLBs or buses boarding and alighting passengers at designated stops, including taxis/PLBs in moving queues at designated stops
• Special traffic conditions (e.g. traffic jam, accidents)
• Security transit (armoured)/disciplinary/ emergency vehicles (e.g. ambulances)
• Vehicles required to run engines for ancillary purposes (e.g. refrigerator trucks, mobile concrete pumps)
• Vehicles engaged in a parade or events authorised by the Transport Department

Vehicles are the second largest local emission source of particulates and nitrogen oxides, accounting for 25% of the total emission for both pollutants.  The Government has been taking a series of measures to reduce vehicle emissions and improve roadside air quality, including publicity and educational programmes to encourage drivers to switch off idling vehicles and developing “No idling engines” guidelines for the transport trades.

However, publicity and education programmes are not sufficiently effective in changing the habits of drivers.  In recent years, the number of complaints against idling vehicles has been increasing (almost doubled from 238 in 2002 to 501 in 2006).  The Legislative Council also carried a motion in December, 2005, requesting the Government to introduce legislation mandating drivers to switch off engines while waiting.  At the same time, there has been an increasing voice in the community to ban idling vehicles.

Many overseas countries, including Singapore and Japan whose summers are also hot and humid, have enacted laws banning idling vehicles.

“Through the consultation, we hope that the community will reach a consensus and support the Government’s proposal,” Mr Yau said.

Copies of the consultation document are available for collection at the District Offices, Regional Offices of EPD, Licensing Offices of the Transport Department and Public Libraries.  The document has also been uploaded to EPD's website (

Members of the public are welcome to forward their views and comments on or before March 31, 2008, to the EPD by post (address: 45/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong), by fax (28249361) or via email (

Ends/Friday, November 2, 2007

The Secretary for the Environment unveiled the Government proposal to ban idling vehicle engines





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