For discussion EC(97-98)11
on 28 May 1997


Subhead 001 Salaries

    Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent posts in the Environmental Protection Department -

    5 Principal Environmental Protection Officers
    (D1) ($86,650 -$91,950)


The directorate structure of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) needs strengthening to cope with the existing demands imposed on it. At the Establishment Subcommittee meeting on 26 February 1997, Members considered EC(96-97)68 at Enclosure l, which gave details of the increasing complexity and volume of the department’s expanding services, arising from the continuing rapid urban and infrastructure development, increasing pollution control activities and demand for waste disposal services, and the rising expectations of the community for a better environment. At Members’ request, we withdrew the paper to provide more information on the proposal. We now provide the additional information in paragraphs 3 to 9 below. Our response to specific points raised by Members are set out at Enclosure 2.


2. We propose to create five permanent posts of Principal Environmental Protection Officer (PEPO) to strengthen the directorate structure of the department, as detailed in EC(96-97)68.


3. The directorate strength of EPD has remained unchanged at 25 since 2 July 1993 when Finance Committee approved the restructuring of the department. Since that time, there has been very substantial growth in the department’s activities.resources to be managed in meeting the demands on it. Most of the growth has been in the department’s capability to enforce pollution controls, as a direct result of the implementation of much of Hong Kong’s environmental protection legislation in the past few years. The department’s directorate is severely overstretched and we are experiencing bottlenecks at the D1 level, resulting in delays in directing and supervising professional staff in many major work areas. The department cannot continue to provide the services that the public now demands unless its directorate strength is augmented.

4. Since 1993, the department has undertaken new and increased pollution control functions. Many of these control functions have been devolved to the local control offices of the department. They include the following -

  1. licensing specified processes under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, exemptions from which were removed in 1993, 1994 and 1996;

  2. implementing a revised livestock waste control scheme since July 1994;

  3. enforcing new controls on fly tipping under the Waste Disposal Ordinance since 1994;

  4. implementing the new Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) Regulation, which requires premises to be connected to public sewers on extension of the sewerage system anywhere in Hong Kong, since June 1994;

  5. major extensions to control under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance -

      Phase I of Victoria Harbour Water Control Zone in November 1994, involving 7 000 separate outflows

      Phase II in September 1995, adding 6 000 outflows

      Phase III in June 1996, with a further 4 000 outflows

  6. implementing the Air Pollution (Open Burning) Regulation to prohibit open burning, especially at construction sites, since February 1996; and

  7. implementing new controls on noise from prescribed construction work under the Noise Control (Construction Work) Regulation since November 1996.

5. We introduced the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance in 1997. This ordinance makes the environmental monitoring and auditing programme an important integral part of the EIA process. Issues of EIA are usually complicated and require the personal attention of directorate staff to take them through various committees and boards.

6. In 1995, we imposed stringent requirements for the emission standards of vehicles and the quality of motor vehicle fuel. In February 1997, the Administration committed to implement an integrated motor vehicle emission control strategy, and in April 1997, we further tightened our requirements for vehicle emission standards and motor vehicle fuel quality.

7. Furthermore, there have been substantial increase in the department’s commitments to the community in relation to waste disposal. Some of the eleven major projects for solid waste have moved forward from planning to implementation since 1993-94 -

  1. Sha Ling Composting Plant (commissioned and in operation)

  2. North Lantau Refuse Transfer Station (being constructed)

  3. Outlying Islands Transfer Facility (being constructed)

  4. Shuen Wan Landfill Restoration (being constructed)

  5. Urban Landfills Restoration (being constructed)

  6. Tseung Kwan O Landfills Restoration (undergoing tender evaluation)

  7. North West New Territories Refuse Transfer Station (tender shortly)

  8. North West New Territories Landfills Restoration (tender shortly)

  9. Centralised Incinerator Facility (undergoing detailed planning)

  10. Low Level Radioactive Waste Facility (undergoing detailed planning)

  11. Pillar Point Valley and Gin Drinkers Bay Landfills Restoration (undergoing detailed planning)

More complex and demanding work involved in the planning/implementation stage of these projects includes preparation of land requirement plans, environmental impact assessment, public consultation, drafting contracts, tendering, tender evaluation and monitoring construction and operation. The contract value under the department’s management has risen from $24.5 billion in 1993-94 to $37 billion in 1997-98, and the annual expenditure managed by the department has risen from $1.1 billion to $3.2 billion in the same period.

8. The above are merely examples of the new and enhanced services that the department has provided to the community since July 1993. The department is necessarily multi-disciplined, with a broad range of specialised functions. They include contract management of major waste facility projects such as those listed above, chemical laboratories, marine biology services, acoustic modelling, air quality monitoring asbestos control, environmental impact assessment, environmental planning, air dispersion modelling, microbiology and motor vehicle emission control, among many others. To fulfil these roles, the department’s establishment has increased from 1 116 on 1 August 1993 to 1 576 on 1 May 1997, with no increase in directorate staff.

9. Over the same period, the department’s expenditure, excluding personal emoluments, has risen from $555 million in 1993-94 to an estimate of $1,644 million in 1997-98. Taken altogether, the increased management demands place an intolerable load on the existing directorate. It is necessary to enhance the directorate strength to undertake the increased responsibility effectively.


10. The net additional notional annual salary cost at mid-point due to this proposal, including the creation and deletion of non-directorate posts is -


No. of posts

Permanent posts to be created








Permanent posts to be deleted







Net additional cost


11. The Director of Environmental Protection will meet the above net additional salary cost from savings released from its departmental expenses. The net additional full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-cost of the directorate and non-directorate posts to be created, offset by the non-directorate posts to be deleted, is $5,855,904. We have included sufficient provision in the 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
May 1997

Enclosure 2 to EC(97-98)11

Response to Members’ Questions raised at the meeting of the Establishment Sub-Committee on 26 February 1997

At the meeting on 26 February 1997, Members raised four specific concerns -

  1. the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) had been expanding rapidly in recent years;

  2. there had been a continuous process of splitting up the department’s functional and regional units;

  3. considering the department’s establishment of about 1 600 posts, the proposed directorate establishment of 30 posts was disproportionately high; and

  4. the Administration should critically review the organisation and staffing of the department.



2. EPD has indeed grown in recent years, to cope with increasing demands for its services which are essential to improve the environment of Hong Kong. As indicated in this paper, a majority of the increases in establishment have been to expand the department's enforcement capability. This was a direct result of the implementation within the last several years of the majority of Hong Kong's environmental legislation, some of which was enacted as long ago as 1980. Most of the increases in the department’s budget reflect the need to make payments to contractors for operating waste facilities, the first of which was commissioned in 1990. Many of these facilities replaced older, unsatisfactory services, thereby offsetting much of the new expenditure.


3. The main reason for the splitting of the department’s functional and regional units is the growth in demand for environmental services in the regional context. With rising public concern and expectation for a better environment, new demands for services have emerged from the community, and new resources have been allocated to meet these demands. As confirmed by an external review (see paragraph 6 below) a single Principal Environmental Protection Officer (PEPO) (D1) cannot handle the work generated by more than three or four sections headed by senior environmental protection officers, except in the local control offices where a PEPO can handle five sections due to the more routine nature of the work.

4. With the creation of the proposed new posts and the establishment of a new local control office, we expect that the department will be able to cope with demands for pollution control services in the regional context for the foreseeable future. Each local control office handles work arising from about three district boards, which is manageable. If, however, no new local control office were formed now, the existing local control office heads (PEPOs), in particular the PEPO of the Territory East Local Control Office who is supervising seven sections, would be overloaded and could not respond adequately to the community demands for service.

Directorate Ratio

5. To illustrate the span of control and responsibility level of directorate officers, we have attempted to compare the estimated proportion of directorate to non-directorate professionals in EPD with that of other departments in the Works and Planning, Environment and Lands groups as at 31st March 1998. Whilst directorate posts are each justified according to need, and the needs of individual departments differ according to their different functions, the following table shows that the proportion of directorate staff in the EPD is far from being high and that some strengthening is not inappropriate.



Non-directorate professional

Proportion of Directorate
to Non-directorate professional

Environmental Protection




Drainage Services




Water Supplies




Architectural Services




Civil Engineering












Electrical and Mechanical Services








Territory Development




* The figure for the EPD will increase to 7.7% if the proposed five directorate posts are created.

Objective Review

6. The proposal as set out in EC(96-97)68 satisfies the requirement of objectivity as it is based on the recommendations made by an external management consultant commissioned to review the management and directorate structure of the department. Completed in 1996, the external management review was overseen by a committee chaired by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, and comprising representatives from Civil Service Branch, Finance Branch, Efficiency Unit and Management Services Agency. The recommendations made have been endorsed by the parties concerned.


Last Updated on 10 September 1998