Environment Hong Kong 2006 Chapter 1: IntroductionChapter 2: Cross-boundary and International Co-operationChapter 3: Community AwarenessChapter 4: Customer Service and PartnershipChapter 5: Environmental Assessment and Planning
Chapter 6: AirChapter 7: NoiseChapter 8: WasteChapter 9: WaterChapter 10: ConservationChapter 11: Environmental Compliance
Vision & MissionForewordDirector's MessageContentsSummaryHomeEnglishChinese TraditionalChinese Simplified

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) had a most remarkable and fruitful year in 2005. We launched a long list of very important policy initiatives with far reaching consequences. I sometimes wonder how we managed to get so much on our plate. On all fronts, but especially in respect of solid waste, air and water, we have been able to press ahead with important decisions and programmes to protect the environment. This begs the question, why this year?

The urgency of the environmental problems Hong Kong faces is the obvious answer. Our landfills are rapidly running out of space and we need to act quickly to reduce waste loads. Smog continues to blight our skyline and we must get on with effective measures to reduce air pollution to below 1997 levels by 2010, as agreed with Guangdong. Parts of Victoria Harbour are still heavily polluted and we need to ensure that the next stage of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme is built on time, by 2013-14. We also must continue with our other prevention and cleanup programmes to meet the community's aspirations for a better environment.

Identifying problems is only the first step towards addressing them. In 2005 we also strengthened our resolve and ability to tackle them. The EPD merged with the environment arm of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau on April 1 significantly de-layering the decision-making mechanism by bringing policy-making and implementation functions under one roof. As a result we have become more efficient. We are able to act and respond quickly and get our voices heard at the highest level of Government.

In practical terms, the merger has enabled us to produce a range of major policy initiatives in the short space of less than a year. Conservation policy making is now under the EPD where we marry it with our efforts to protect the natural environment through planning and prevention, while the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department continues to operate as the executive arm. A Cross-boundary and International Division has been set up to handle the growing workload on regional and international issues. However, the most immediate effect of the merger has been the swift manner in which we have been able to address Hong Kong's most pressing environmental issues.

On solid waste, we published "A Policy Framework for the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (2005-2014)" in December, a comprehensive statement on how we will tackle all aspects of the waste problem. For the first time, a full list of measures, such as waste avoidance and minimisation, source separation of waste, municipal solid waste charging, product responsibility schemes, recycling, the EcoPark, waste treatment (including incineration) and landfill extensions, are all covered in one policy document. As a first step in applying the polluter pays principle and to save our landfill space, we enacted new legislation during the year enabling charges to be levied on the disposal of construction waste.

In respect of air pollution, we introduced a cap on emissions from power plants, the biggest local source of emissions that contribute to regional smog. The Government also sought to promote energy conservation in the community. We launched a campaign to encourage the public to set indoor summer temperatures at 25.5 degrees Celsius, promoted the wider use of renewable energy and launched a public consultation exercise on the introduction of legislation on energy efficiency labelling for selected electrical appliances. Pollution from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), an important source of smog, was addressed as we drew up proposals to control the level of VOCs in various industrial and consumer products. We have also greatly enhanced our collaboration with Guangdong by setting up a regional air quality monitoring network, which provides the public with daily reports on air quality in the Pearl River Delta region.

For water, we took the decision to proceed with Stage Two of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) in two phases. Underpinned by a determination to apply the polluter pays principle to sewage treatment, we are working towards completing the first phase in 2013-14. The Government will bear the construction costs but polluters, which means all of us, must pay the cost of treating our sewage.

We have launched these important initiatives simultaneously into orbit. Their success will depend on whether we are able to forge a strong partnership with the community in their implementation. While the EPD sets targets and draws up strategies to achieve them, we cannot hope to secure a healthy and sustainable environment unless the community supports and participates in our programmes.

Everyone in the community has a responsibility and a role to play in protecting the environment. Waste separation, sewage and waste disposal charges, conservation of energy and acceptance of the need to build new facilities are some of the demands that will be placed on the community in the next few years. This report outlines the details of our plans and how far we have come in implementing them. It also presses home a fundamental principle for environmental protection in Hong Kong: that Government cannot improve the environment on its own. This is a shared responsibility and everyone must pull their weight.

We will be promoting this message in 2006 with vigour and determination, as we seek to deliver what we have set out to achieve. We will also press ahead with the initiatives we have set in train in 2005. I hope we will have the strong support and active participation of the community in our collective effort to improve the environment.