Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(1)480
(These minutes have
been seen by the

Ref: CB1/PL/EA

Panel on Environmental Affairs

Minutes of meeting held on Friday, 24 October 1997, at 10:00 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin (Chairman)
Hon LAU Kong-wah (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Henry WU
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon IP Kwok-him

Public officers attending :

Item IV

Mr Benjamin TANG
Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)

Miss Joey LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Environment)

Mr Rob LAW
Director of Environmental Protection

Mr Raymond CHAN
Assistant Director of Environmental Protection
(Environmental Assessment)
Clerk in attendance :

Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance :

Ms Connie SZE-TO,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)1

I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)352)

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 1997 were confirmed.

II.Date of next meeting and items for discussion

2.Members agreed to discuss the subject of proposed increased usage for selected refuse transfer stations (RTS) at the next Panel meeting scheduled for 21 November 1997. Members noted that the Administration intended to brief the Panel on the proposal to extend the existing service of RTS to receive wastes delivered by private waste collectors in addition to those collected by the two Municipal Councils. As the subject was related to the Administration's municipal waste disposal strategy and Waste Reduction Plan, members agreed to include the following issues in the discussion -

  1. segregation of municipal wastes;

  2. reduced use of foam plastic; and

  3. expedition of the 18-month consultancy study on building two waste-to-energy incinerators.

3.Members also agreed to discuss the Administration's overall waste management strategy at the meeting in December 1997.

[Post-meeting note : The Administration proposed that items (a) - (c) above be discussed at the December meeting as they are part and parcel of the waste management strategy.]

4.Noting that the subject of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxi trial scheme was of mutual concern to the Environmental Affairs Panel and the Transport Panel and would be discussed at a Transport Panel meeting scheduled for 14 November 1997, members agreed that the Clerks to the two Panels work out the arrangement to facilitate both Panels to follow this up.

[Post-meeting note : With the concurrence of the Chairmen of the Environmental Affairs Panel and the Transport Panel, members of the Environmental Affairs Panel would be invited to the scheduled Transport Panel meeting to discuss the subject.]

III.Information paper issued since last meeting

5.Members noted that no information paper had been issued since the last meeting.

IV.Assessment of the effectiveness of installed noise barriers
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)363(02))

6.Members opined that the Administration's information paper failed to give a comprehensive picture on the effectiveness of different types of noise barriers. The Deputy Chairman said that the item was raised by him. He was disappointed at the Administration's inaction to assess the effectiveness of noise barriers installed along existing roads despite repeated urges from relevant Provisional District Boards and local organisations. He pointed out that based on the results of field measurements conducted by concern groups, noise barriers built on existing roads in Ap Lei Chau, Tsing Yi and Shatin as well as along Route 5 could not reduce traffic noise to the maximum permissible level for domestic premises under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines. He requested the Administration to conduct an assessment on all installed noise barriers as soon as possible. His views were shared by some members who were of the view that while noise barriers could mitigate noise impact on residents of the lower floors of neighbouring domestic premises, they intensified noise level at the upper floors and created other environmental problems such as aesthetic nuisance. Members urged the Administration to assess the cost-effectiveness of installed noise barriers independent of those conducted by proponents of road projects. In addition to carrying out assessment tests, members suggested that views of local residents should also be collected.

7.In response to members' comments, the Assistant Director of Environmental Protection (Environmental Assessment) (AD/EP (EA)) said that while the Administration's paper provided brief information on existing policy on the provision of noise mitigation measures, detailed technical and practical guides were provided to relevant trades and professionals for reference. The Administration noted that whilst noise barriers might not be as effective in alleviating noise problem at the upper floors of high-rise residential developments, they did provide adequate screening to lower floors. He clarified that the Administration did conduct tests on the effectiveness of installed noise barriers on existing public roads. However, it was not always possible to conclude the effectiveness of a particular barrier from field measurements of traffic noise level alone for a number of reasons. Traffic patterns different from the steady state pattern on the basis of which the traffic capacity was projected and geographical conditions of the areas would affect the effectiveness of a barrier. Moreover, it was difficult to attribute categorically the increase in noise level to the vehicular noise from the new road since the new road was likely an additional element in an existing road network. As a result, a lot of mathematical corrections had to be carried out to account for the varying traffic parameters which might render the exercise impracticable and not cost-effective for most cases. Nevertheless, wherever practicable, the project proponents would be required to assess upon completion the effectiveness of the mitigation measures. The follow-up examination would include proper documentation on verification of the various physical parameters of the roads and their noise barriers, with relevant traffic noise measurements, after the opening of the new roads. One such example was the assessment of the effectiveness of the noise mitigation measures provided in the new road system in Northern Lantau.

8.Regarding the provision of noise mitigation measures for public roads, AD/EP (EA) advised that it was an established policy to require proponents of new road and road improvement projects to assess the potential traffic noise impacts of their projects through Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The EIA study would identify suitable road alignment and recommend the best practicable package of noise mitigation measures for the roads to meet the planning guidelines. In the provision and design of necessary mitigation measures at the planning stage, population growth and projected traffic flow in 10 to 15 years' time would be taken into account. As to noise mitigation measures for existing public roads, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment) said that an engineering feasibility study on installation of noise barriers or enclosures on existing roads was commissioned in October 1996 and scheduled for completion by mid-1998. The Administration would review the policy on provision of noise mitigation measures for existing roads in the light of findings of the study.

9.Some members pointed out that given the high density of high-rise residential developments in close proximity to public roads in Hong Kong, the findings of overseas studies and researches on noise barriers might not be relevant. They urged the Administration to make reference to studies in densely populated areas, such as Japan. A member also requested the Administration to expedite the above mentioned consultancy study.

10.Members agreed to further deliberate on the subject at the next Panel meeting on 21 November 1997. The Administration was requested to provide a detailed information paper to address the concerns raised by members including the effectiveness of different types of noise barriers, assessment of the effectiveness of installed noise barriers in consultation with local residents, details of the consultancy study on the provision of traffic noise mitigation measures for existing roads and the feasibility of speeding up the study.

V.Any other business

11.The Chairman sought members' views on the need to conduct a research on cross-border co-operation and co-ordination on environmental issues including waste management, air, noise and water pollution. Members agreed to discuss the subject of cross-border co-operation at the meeting in December 1997. Subject to the outcome of discussions, the Research and Library Services Division of the Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat might be asked to conduct a research on the subject. Members noted that the next meeting of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Environmental Protection Liaison Group would be held in early 1998.

[Post-meeting note : para 11 had been brought to the attention of the Head of the Research and Library Services Division on 28 October 1997]

12.There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10:40 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
11 November 1997