LegCo Paper No. CB(1)245/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/EA/1

LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 8 October 1996 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai (Chairman)
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Member attending :
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Members absent :
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Public officers attendomg:
    Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
    Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
    Mr A G Cooper, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)
    Mr Rob LAW
    Director of Environmental Protection
Clerk in attendance :
    Miss Odelia LEUNG
    Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
    Ms Sarah YUEN
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)1

Policy briefing by Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

1.Mr Bowen LEUNG briefed members on the progress on environmental protection as detailed in the Report of the Third Review of Progress on the 1989 White Paper (Progress Report). He highlighted the following achievements -

  1. All old waste incinerators had been closed and were replaced by new refuse transfer stations and strategic landfills. The new facilities would enable the introduction of a cleaner and more efficient system of transporting waste to landfills.
  2. A chemical waste treatment centre had started operation to dispose of 100,000 tonnes of chemical wastes generated annually in a satisfactory manner.
  3. The phased livestock waste control scheme had reduced water pollution from livestock waste in the most polluted streams and rivers in the New Territories by over 70%.
  4. The Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme was well underway to prevent the quality of Hong Kong’s watercourses and coastal waters from further deteriorating.
  5. Improvement was evident in mitigation of noise pollution, particularly noise mitigation programmes for school.

2. Mr LEUNG explained the reasons for the slippage on some policy commitments as follows -

  1. The replacement of diesel hammers with quieter hydraulic hammers for piling had encountered slippage because of the need for enabling legislation, which would be ready for introduction into the Legislative Council in early 1997. In the meantime, control on the use of diesel hammers had been tightened by requiring the use of hydraulic hammers in government projects.
  2. The Waste Reduction Study was behind schedule because of its unexpected complexity. Public consultation on its recommendations had been completed and the Administration was finalising the Draft Waste Reduction Plan which would be released for public consultation in early 1997.

3. Mr LEUNG highlighted the following endeavours for the year ahead -

  1. The Administration would continue to tackle air pollution from road traffic at source. Apart from following up on the practical concerns raised by the transport trade on the Diesel to Petrol Scheme (DTP Scheme), the Administration had set up an inter-departmental working group to study other alternative fuelled vehicles, including gas-powered vehicles. The Administration would require diesel vehicles to use cleaner fuel in April 1997.
  2. On reduction of noise pollution, legislation would be introduced to tighten control on the use of diesel hammers for piling. Legislation to control car burglar alarms had been introduced and was being considered by the Legislative Council. The Administration was examining ways to strengthen mitigation measures and to enlarge noise -sensitive receivers.
  3. In the area of waste management, apart from formulating the Draft Waste Reduction Plan for public consultation in early 1997, the Administration had also planned to commission more refuse transfer stations. The West Kowloon and Island West transfer stations would be commissioned in May 1997, followed by the Mui Wo, Peng Chau and Cheung Chau transfer stations in March 1998, and the Hei Ling Chau transfer station in June 1998. The Administration would soon consult the Panel on the proposal to conduct a consultancy study on waste-fired power generation, a bulk waste reduction technology.
  4. The selection process of consultants for carrying out the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century was underway. The Administration would keep the Panel posted in the progress of this phased study and would consult the public as planned.

Air pollution

4. In response to members’ questions on the proposed DTP Scheme, representatives of the Administration said that the Administration was not abandoning DTP scheme. The inter-departmental working group including the Planning, Environment and Lands Branch (PEL Branch) and the Transport Branch was set up to examine alternative fuelled vehicles to reduce vehicle emissions. The working group was considering the parameters of its study, and would have a working timetable by the end of this October. Trials would be conducted to assess the feasibility of applying different alternatives in Hong Kong. Factors such as price, depreciation, infrastructure support, technology development, and repair and maintenance framework were being considered. Should the working group come up with any recommendations, LegCo members and the public would certainly be consulted. The Administration would advise the Panel on the membership, terms of reference, and working schedule of the working group. Members agreed that LegCo Panel on Transport would be invited to take part in the deliberation on this matter at Panel meetings.

5. Responding to members’ questions and comments on the effectiveness of inspections of, enforcement against and penalties for smoky vehicles, representatives of the Administration made the following points -Clerk to
  1. Vehicle emissions had become the main source of air pollution and the main pollutant was respirable suspended particular (RSP). RSP emissions were caused fundamentally by the design of diesel vehicles and, as such, the amount of these emissions could not readily be controlled by vehicle owners, unlike dark smoke emissions. Unless diesel vehicles were replaced, their vast number and heavy use would continue to have adverse effect on air quality.
  2. Since the proposed DTP Scheme was put on hold, the Administration was examining shot-term measures to control emissions from smoky vehicles. These included increasing the frequency of inspections of vehicles, raising the penalties for smoke offences, tightening up emission standards, requiring diesel vehicles to use cleaner fuel and strengthening public education. About 50,000 smoky vehicles were detected each year and at least 1,000 cases resulted in suspension of licences.
  3. The Administration was aware that commercial diesel vehicle operators had initiated two maintenance programmes in response to the call for better maintenance. The Administration would welcome if the trade could provide further information on the programmes.

6. Regarding the time taken to release information to the public on air quality at street level in busy districts, Mr LEUNG explained that the Administration would increase the number of street-level monitoring stations from one to four for more comprehensive assessment of air quality. When such assessment results were available, the Administration could work out a base line for the development and publication of a Roadside Air Pollution Index.


7. In response to members’ questions on waste reduction and management strategy, Mr LEUNG provided the following information -

  1. The Draft Waste Reduction Plan, which would be released for public consultation in early 1997, would cover waste minimisation issues comprehensively, including waste reduction of packaging by manufacturers and changes in collection and handling of waste by the two Municipal Councils.
  2. The proposed Central Incineration Facility was suspended because the Finance Committee did not approve the funding. The Administration would consult the Panel on possible alternatives.
  3. The Administration would study the feasibility of applying in Hong Kong the new bulk reduction technology of incineration with energy recovery. The study would cover how the energy so recovered could form part of the power supply, the locations and number of sites required, the operational costs, the maintenance programme and technology development.
  4. Collection of floating refuse fell within the purview of the Marine Department and the Environmental Protection Department always liaised with the Marine Department to monitor the situation. The Administration would provide written information on policy commitments regarding reduction of floating refuse.Admin.
  5. The Administration needed $1.35 billion to implement the remaining phases of the livestock waste control scheme. This funding was necessary to provide financial assistance, in the form of grants and loans, to help farmers install suitable waste facilities to meet progressively higher discharge standards, and to provide ex gratia allowances to farmers who decided to cease livestock farming. Upon the completion of the remaining phases of the scheme, water pollution caused by livestock waste in the New Territories would be reduced by 90%. The Administration would provide an update on the number of livestock farms.Admin.

Energy Conservation

8. In reply to members’ questions on energy conservation, representatives of the Administration made the following points -

  1. The Administration was examining the viability of making the existing voluntary energy efficiency labelling scheme for electrical appliances mandatory as the response to the scheme so far was unsatisfactory.
  2. The codes of practice for lighting installations and air-conditioning installations would be introduced in 1998 as consultation with the manufacturing industry, the wholesale importers as well as the retail industry would take time.

Liaison with China

9. In response to member’s concern on the liaison and co-operation between the Hong Kong Government and the Chinese side on cross-border environmental issues, Mr LEUNG said that this was taken care of by the Hong Kong-Guangdong Environmental Protection Liaison Group. The Liaison Group held annual meetings and its different sub-groups met regularly to exchange information on cross-border environmental issues. Since its formation, the Liaison Group had studied the conservation of the Chinese White Dolphin. It had completed its monitoring work at Deep Bay and was at present carrying out a two-year joint monitoring study of the Mirs Bay area. The Hong Kong Government was exchanging information with the environmental protection department in Guangdong on high-priority projects and data on air and water quality. Having established a base-line of water quality for reference, the two sides had been able to detect deterioration and take necessary remedial actions. The Chairman asked the Clerk to circulate the extract on liaison with China from the Progress Report for members’ information.

(Post-meeting note: The extract was circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 95/96-97.)

10. The meeting ended at 5:20 p.m.
Legislative Council
4 November 1996

Last Updated on 18 August 1998