2005, the Environmental Protection Department merged with the Environment
Branch of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau. The new set-up,
called the Environmental Protection Department and under the Bureau,
was geared up for various environmental challenges, not least cross-boundary
co-operation. Top on our agenda is regional air pollution, which
we have been tackling together with Guangdong.
Significant progress has been made in implementing a regional air quality
management plan. A key achievement in this regard was the commissioning
of a regional air quality monitoring network on November 30, and
the daily reporting of a regional air quality index. On the local
front, on January 1, we introduced Euro IV petrol standards for
our vehicles, and in August, we introduced a new policy of imposing
emissions caps in the specified process licences for power plants.
We also completed a programme of retrofitting about 36 600 heavy
diesel vehicles with emission reduction devices as well as another
programme which provided incentives to owners to replace 2 521 diesel
light buses with LPG light buses. Agreement was also secured with
suppliers that a mandatory control scheme be introduced for common
products containing volatile organic compounds, scheduled to come
into effect in 2007.
We are fully aware of the public's aspirations for a clear blue
sky. Both Guangdong and Hong Kong are committed to reducing air
pollution to well below 1997 levels by 2010. We expect that many
measures in the management plan, such as tackling emissions from
power plants and introducing more stringent motor vehicle emissions
standards, will begin to bring positive effects to our air quality
in the coming two years.
During the year, we enacted legislation on charging for the
disposal of construction waste. The issue of tackling municipal
solid waste is also an imminent challenge. In December, we
published "A Policy Framework for the Management of
Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)". The Policy Framework
charts our way forward for the coming ten years. The
development of Phase I of the EcoPark in Tuen Mun is set for
occupation in late 2006 to provide appropriate infrastructure
for the recycling industry. Our priority right now is to put in
place producer responsibility schemes through legislation in
2006, to be followed by the introduction of legislation on
municipal solid waste charging in 2007.
We also decided to proceed with Stage 2A of the Harbour Area Treatment
Scheme, an expensive but essential piece of infrastructure to clean
up the harbour's waters, subject to the community's agreement to
full recovery of operating costs through the sewage charging schemes.
A bill to control medicine from endangered species was also introduced
into the Legislative Council.
Our battle with environmental challenges cannot and should not
be fought by the Government alone. Individuals in the community
have a vital role to play. Small contributions from every one
of us taking care of the environment can make a significant difference.
We will continue our efforts in promoting public awareness through
community activities, educational programmes and incentive schemes.