File Ref: TRAN 3/01/56
Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997 and Tate's Cairn Tunnel (Tate's Cairn Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997
At the meeting of the Executive Council on 11 November 1997, the Council ADVISED and the Chief Executive ORDERED that the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997 and Tate's Cairn Tunnel (Tate's Cairn Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997, at Annex A, be introduced into the Provisional Legislative Council.
BACKGROUND AND ARGUMENT
2.At present, there are ten road tunnels. Six are Government tunnels operated under management contracts and four are franchised tunnels. The operation of franchised tunnels (i.e. Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Harbour Crossing, Tate's Cairn Tunnel and Western Harbour Crossing) is governed by dedicated legislation while Government tunnels are governed by the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) and requirements stipulated in management contracts.
3.The relevant Ordinances and management contracts prescribe the level of concentration of air pollutants, mainly carbon monoxide. The levels for individual tunnels, which were drawn up at different times, are different. The air quality standards applicable to different road tunnels are shown at Annex B.
4.In 1993, the Environmental Protection Department issued a set of Practice Notes on Control of Air Pollution in Vehicle Tunnels to set out the concentration limits for, apart from carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and the visibility level and recommended that additional monitors be installed by tunnel operators to monitor the concentration of nitrogen dioxide and the visibility inside the tunnels. The air quality standards set out in the Practice Notes reflect the latest international standards and are more stringent than the air quality standards now in force in most of the road tunnels.
5.While the Administration was considering how best to give effect to the standards laid down in the Practice Notes, the Hon Ip Kwok-him introduced three Member's Bills into the then Legislative Council in April 1997. These Bills aimed to bring the air quality standards stated in the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations (Cap. 203 sub. leg.), Tate's Cairn Tunnel Regulations (Cap. 393 sub. leg.) and Eastern Harbour Crossing Road Tunnel Regulations (Cap. 215 sub. leg.) up to the enhanced standards laid down in the Practice Notes. The Member's Bills were passed on 26 June 1997 and the Amendment Ordinances will come into operation on 1 January 1998.
6.During the debate on the three Member's Bills on 26 June 1997, we pointed out that the ventilation systems of the tunnels were designed and constructed at different times according to different air quality standards set out in their respective project agreements when the tunnels were built. Tunnel operators might need more time to conduct studies to ascertain whether the ventilation systems in their tunnels would be able to meet the enhanced standards, and if not, how the necessary improvement works should be carried out. We informed the then Legislative Council that the Administration might need to amend the three Ordinances to defer the commencement date.
7.After liaising with the three tunnel companies on the progress of making preparations to implement the enhanced standards of air quality, we have established that the Eastern Harbour Crossing Company Limited will be able to meet the new standards with their existing ventilation systems. However, The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Company, Limited and the Tate's Cairn Tunnel Company Limited will need 14 and 16 months respectively, as from 1 January 1998, to conduct further detailed studies, to procure the necessary equipment and to carry out improvement works to meet the new standards.
8.The Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997 changes the commencement date of the Amendment Ordinance from 1 January 1998 to 1 March 1999, while the Tate's Cairn Tunnel (Tate's Cairn Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997 changes the commencement date of the Amendment Ordinance from 1 January 1998 to 1 May 1999.
9.Both tunnel companies have agreed to the proposed commencement dates.
BILL OF RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS
10.There are no Bill of Rights implications.
FINANCIAL AND STAFFING IMPLICATIONS
11.The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Company, Limited has indicated that the estimated cost of consultancy study and equipment is $2.5 million. Section 54 of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 203) stipulates that the Government shall pay to The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Company, Limited the depreciated value of any assets purchased by the Company within the five years preceding the expiration of the period of franchise. Since the franchise of the Company will expire on 1 September 1999, the Government will need to reimburse the depreciated value of the additional equipment to the Company. We will vet the cost estimation to ensure it is fair and proper.
12.As regards the Tate's Cairn Tunnel, the Tate's Cairn Tunnel Company Limited has already secured $40 million from its Board of Directors for the engagement of consultants and upgrading works.
13.Until the completion of the improvement works, the air quality in the tunnels may be lower than the new air quality standards when traffic is congested.
14.The legislative timetable, as approved by the Chief Executive in Council, will be:
|Publication in the Gazette
||14 November 1997
|First Reading and commencement of Second Reading debate
|26 November 1997
|Resumption of Second Reading debate committee stage and Third Reading
|to be notified
15.We will issue a press release on 12 November 1997. The Bills will be published in the Gazette on 14 November 1997.
Mr Allan Chow
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
11 November 1997