For discussion EC(98-99)32
on 11 February 1999


Subhead 001 Salaries

Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the creation of the following permanent post in the Environmental Protection Department -
    1 Principal Environmental Protection Officer
    (D1) ($98,250 - $104,250)

The Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) does not have adequate directorate resources to provide professional environmental advice for the delivery of the accelerated housing and housing-related projects endorsed by the Steering Committee on Land Supply for Housing (HOUSCOM).


2. We propose to create one permanent post of Principal Environmental Protection Officer (D1) (PEPO) in the Environmental Assessment and Noise (EAN) Division of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) headquarters.


3. The Government is committed to providing not less than 50 000 public flats a year and will continue to form land and build the necessary infrastructure to meet the long-term demand of about 35 000 private flats a year. As a long-term commitment to housing production, the Government has approved an inventory of more than 1 000 housing sites and established a list of about 150 housing-related infrastructure projects. This is a continuous effort and is expected to extend to the year 2010 and beyond.

4. To deliver these housing initiatives, there is a need for EPD to provide professional environmental advice on each of the housing sites and housing-related infrastructure projects. The professional advice of the department covers a range of environmental matters in relation to identifying sufficient environmentally suitable land for housing, overcoming environmental constraints on potential housing and housing-related infrastructure projects and streamlining Government procedures for these projects. Such advice is required by the lead departments, namely the Territory Development Department, Housing Department, and Lands Department, which are responsible for monitoring housing projects, delivering the housing programmes and housing-related infrastructure projects, and long-term land production.

5. Since the introduction of the long term housing production strategy in 1997, the demand for professional environmental advice has increased enormously. A comparison of EPD's workload before and after the introduction of the strategy in 1997 is at Enclosure 1. As the projects in the inventory gain momentum, the demand for environmental advice will increase further. We estimate that on average, EPD will need to provide specific professional environmental advice each year on about 200 housing and housing-related proposals, 100 new sites and ten major housing studies. Furthermore, the department needs to spend more effort in dealing with an increasing number of sites under greater environmental constraints. In order to keep the housing production targets on track, the department needs to resolve environmental issues promptly, taking account of the long term effect on prospective inhabitants.Encl. 1

6. At present, there is no dedicated officer at the directorate level in the department to handle housing proposals. The department has established, through internal redeployment, a team of professionals to form a Housing Supply Unit (HSU) to handle the increased housing-related work. Whilst the HSU has streamlined its work procedures to cope with the increased workload, many of the responsibilities require the attention of a sufficiently senior and experienced officer. As an interim measure, these responsibilities are shared by the existing Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment and Noise) (AD(EA)) and the PEPO of Urban Assessment Group (PEPO/UAG). However, this arrangement is unsatisfactory as AD(EA) and the four existing PEPOs in EAN Division are already heavily engaged in a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including those relating to the on-going Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century, several major planning and development studies, the increasing demand for supporting Government's green management programme and a number of major environmental impact assessment and environmental monitoring and audit activities relating to port and railway developments. The workload of directorate officers in the Division has increased further over the past year as a result of full implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance since April 1998, which has required substantial additional attention from directorate officers within the EAN Division to deal with the statutory process, applications for approval of EIA reports, consultation with the Advisory Council on the Environment and the public, the issue of environmental permits and enforcement work. This increased workload, together with the increase in housing-related responsibilities, has placed a considerable strain on the directorate resources of the EAN Division which threatens to impair the Division's capacity to discharge its responsibilities effectively.

7. DEP has concluded that additional directorate support for the EAN Division is necessary. DEP also considers that many of the responsibilities arising from the housing programme require the skills, the expertise, the experience and the authority of a directorate officer to ensure that EPD can contribute effectively and without the constant need for referral to more senior officers in the department.

8. We therefore propose to create a permanent post of PEPO (D1), to be designated as PEPO (Housing Supply), to head a new Housing Supply Group (HSG) which will replace the existing HSU. The new PEPO will provide directorate guidance to professional staff within the HSG, represent EPD at high level working group meetings, and meet with relevant departments and developers to resolve complex environmental issues. He will advise senior directorate staff on practical solutions and have the delegated authority from DEP for prompt resolution of environmental issues. The existing organisation charts of the department and of the EAN Division, the proposed organisation chart of the EAN Division, and the job description of the proposed PEPO/Housing Supply are at Enclosures 2, 3,4 and 5 respectively.Encls.2to5

9. We have fully considered the implications of the Enhanced Productivity Programme. We have already redeployed resources from the existing establishment for setting up the housing unit. There is no possibility of redeploying another D1 to deal with the work. The new D1 is still needed to head the housing unit and to enable quick resolution of environmental issues for prompt delivery of the committed housing programme.


10. The additional notional annual salary cost of the proposal at mid-point is $1,213,200. The annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salary and staff on-costs, is $2,184,264. In addition, this proposal will necessitate the creation of one additional post of Personal Secretary II at the notional annual mid-point salary of $181,920 and annual average staff cost of $303,720. We have included sufficient provision in the 1998-99 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.


11. In the 1997 Policy Address, the Chief Executive set the production of not less than 85 000 flats a year starting in 1999-2000 as the top priority of the Administration. The HOUSCOM has since July 1997 been established to make more land available for residential development to meet the housing needs of the community.

12. In the 1998 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that a review of the individual components of the flat production target has been conducted. The Government remains committed to providing not less than 50 000 flats a year in the public sector and will continue to form land and build the necessary infrastructure to meet the long-term demand of about 35 000 private flats a year based on current projections.


13. The department has considered carefully alternative means to provide the appropriate level of service bearing in mind the need for efficiency and productivity but considers this proposal the most appropriate way to proceed. Having regard to the reasons put forward, Civil Service Bureau considers the proposal justified and the grading and ranking appropriate.


14. The Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service has advised that the grading proposed for the post would be appropriate if the post were to be created.


Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
February 1999


Enclosure 1 to EC(98-99)32

Workload Analysis before and after Promulgation of Government's Long Term Housing Production in 1997

Average numbers/year before 1997 Average numbers/year after 1997
Number of environmentally suitable housing site screened 50 100
Number of boost housing supply planning studies vetted 2 10
Number of public housing proposal cleared 30 50

N.B.The above analysis has not included submissions from private sector (e.g. section 16/section 17/rezoning application under the Town Planning Ordinance) as these are subject to changes in market conditions.

Enclosure 5 to EC(98-99)32

Proposed Job Description of Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Housing Supply)

Rank: D1

Responsible to: Assistant Director of Environmental Protection (EAN)

Main Duties and Responsibilities -
  1. To manage and direct the work of the Housing Supply Group.

  2. To provide prompt professional environmental advice to lead departments such as Planning Department, Housing Department etc. in the identification of environmentally acceptable housing sites for medium and long-term housing needs.

  3. To advise public and private developers on housing layouts and designs to produce a better quality living environment.

  4. To interact with senior officers within government and in the private sector to provide prompt and authoritative professional environmental advice to resolve environmental issues and to advise senior management on practical solutions to disputes or conflicts relating to specific public and private housing sites.

  5. To attend important meetings of and contribute to five District Monitoring Groups chaired by Project Managers of Territory Development Department, the Working Group on Housing Sites chaired by Director of Planning, other housing or urban renewal working groups chaired by policy bureaux.

  6. To provide professional support to the Assistant Director, the Deputy Director and the Director of Environmental Protection Department to attend Housing Project Action Team chaired by the Secretary for Housing and high level policy forums on development procedures chaired by the Policy Secretaries.

  7. To provide timely environmental information and inputs for monitoring progress on flat production and in providing environmental input to the process.

  8. To keep abreast of developments in those technical and scientific fields in environmental planning, relating to housing developments.

  9. To ensure that the professional capability of all staff in the Housing Supply Group is maintained and that adequate attention is given to their training and development.