Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs

Meeting on 10 April 1997 Information Paper Erection of Overhead Power Lines


1. This paper updates Members on the steps taken by the Administration to improve the current procedures relating to the provision of electricity network schemes in the light of the Black Point exercise. It also briefs Members on the implications of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance on the erection of high voltage overhead power lines.


2. At the meeting of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Panel on Environmental Affairs on 7 November 1996, the Chairman requested the Administration to consider Member’s views on how to improve the consultation process, the monitoring role of Government in the process and to revise the planning standards and guidelines in accordance with the precautionary principle with respect to the approval of overhead power line schemes.

3. In December 1996, the Provision of Power Line Policy Review Working Group chaired by Planning, Environment and Lands Branch (PELB) started the power line policy review exercise with a view to improving the current procedures, in particular those relating to planning, EIA and public consultation.

Review Progress

4. We have started that part of the review which examines the mechanism in regard to the settlement of objections and compensations under the Electricity Networks (Statutory Easements) Ordinance (Cap. 357). The application of Cap. 357 is invoked for the creation of statutory easements rights to enable power lines between pylons to oversail private land. Our preliminary observation is that the provisions in Cap. 357 may be inadequate. There could be a better mechanism to allow public views to be expressed and considered before an overhead power line scheme is authorised by the Governor in Council. The mechanism could also specify the area of land or lots which are affected by and qualified for compensation under a proposed scheme.

5. While the preliminary findings do not have direct environmental implications, we believe that if procedures could be put in place for earlier consideration of objections, environmental concerns regarding any selected sites for power stations, pylons and the associated power line routes would also be able to be identified earlier.

6. We shall review Cap. 357 in greater depth and other procedures relating to the provision of power lines in subsequent stages. The review areas and the co-ordinating Department(s) / Branch(es) are as follows -

Review Area

Department / Branch

Justifications of the need for new power lines

Economic Services Branch,

Electrical & Mechanical Services Department

Route planning (including planning standards and guidelines) and environmental impact assessment

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch,

Agriculture and Fisheries Department,

Environmental Protection Department,

Planning Department

Consultation (with the public, District Boards, Rural Committees, the Country and Marine Parks Board, Advisory Council on the Environment etc.)

Home Affairs Department,

Agriculture & Fisheries Department,

Planning Department,

others as appropriate (e.g. Town Planning Board)

Existing legislation in regard to the approval of power line networks

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch,

Lands Department

Settlement of objections against proposed routing of power lines prior to commencement of works

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch,

Home Affairs Department,

Lands Department,

Planning Department

Provisions and procedures for compensation and claims

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch,

Lands Department

Maintenance and monitoring of power lines

Economic Services Branch,

Electrical & Mechanical Services Department

Publicity and public education on EMF

Health and Welfare Branch,

Electrical & Mechanical Services Department,

Department of Health,

Information Services Department

7. As indicated, the review of the planning standards and guidelines (including those governing the EMF standards) taking into account the precautionary principle, and the consultation process relating to the alignment of new power lines will be undertaken as part of the review. The Review Group will work closely with the Working Group (WG) on EMF to explore room for improvement.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance

8. Under the procedures set out in Advice Note No. 2/92 of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), a power company proposing a new power line scheme which is likely to have an adverse impact on the environment is to submit the project profile to EPD for an Environmental Review. The review will decide whether or not an EIA study is required through focusing on the ecological issues, impacts arising from the construction work, including air, water (for submarine cable), noise and waste impacts, and landscaping works.

9. LegCo enacted on 29 January 1997 the EIA Ordinance which when coming into effect in early 1998 will make EIA studies for 400 kV lines statutory. Transmission lines of heavy voltage are to be covered under item H.1 of the Schedule 2 Part I. The proponent is required to carry out the power line project in accordance with the required environmental permit conditions, which could include environmental requirements for construction, alignment and monitoring and audit conditions.

10. Under the EIA Ordinance, power lines of more than 66 kV in areas of ecological importance or cultural heritage are covered under item Q.1 of Schedule 2 Part I. They will be subject to the same statutory procedures as for 400 kV power lines should they affect existing or gazetted country parks, conservation areas, special areas, marine parks, marine reserves, sites of cultural heritage or special scientific interest.


11. The Administration will work to improve the overall policy and procedures governing the erection of power lines. Upon completion of the review exercise, some legislative amendments and administrative procedures could be identified to address the concerns observed from the Black Point case. In the meantime, we believe the EIA Ordinance would enhance the environmental assessment of power line projects. We will in due course -

  1. update Members on the findings of the review;

  2. consult Members on any proposed measures as a result of the review; and

  3. brief Members on any new development on the EMF issue local or worldwide.

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
April 1997

Last Updated on 18 August 1998