Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(1)162/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref: CB1/PL/EA

LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs

Minutes of meeting
held on Thursday, 30 July 1998, at 10:45 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Christine LOH (Chairman)
Hon HUI Cheung-ching (Deputy Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Bernard CHAN
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP

Members absent :

Hon CHAN Wing-chan

Non-Panel members :

Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Public officers attending :

For all items

Deputy Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Environment)

For item IV

Mr Eugene FUNG
Acting Principal Assistant Secretary
for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)

Dr Ellen CHAN
Acting Assistant Director (Waste & Water)
Environmental Protection Department

Business Manager
Drainage Services Department

For item V

Mr Howard LEE
Principal Assistant Secretary for
Economic Services (New Airport)

Principal Environmental Protection Officer
Environmental Protection Department


Environmental Manager
Airport Authority

Mr Albert LAM
Deputy Director of Civil Aviation
(Operations and Standards)

Mr Alex AU
Air Traffic General Manager
Civil Aviation Department

Mr Simon LI
Chief Planning Officer
Civil Aviation Department

Attendance by invitation :

Aircraft Noise Concern Committee
Mr Albert CHAN
Tsuen Wan Provisional District Board member

Mr CHAN Sung-ip
Tsuen Wan Provisional District Board member

Miss HO Suk-ping
Shatin Provisional District Board member

Ms LI CHAN Miu-ha
Chairman, Incorporated Owners of
Greenwood Terrace (Shatin)

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Mary TANG,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

I Confirmation of minutes of meeting
(Paper No. CB(1)58/98-99)

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 1998 were confirmed.

II Date of next meeting and items for discussion

2. Members agreed that the following items would be discussed at the next regular Panel meeting scheduled for 11 September 1998 -

  1. The new power station proposed to be built by Hong Kong Electric Company Limited on Lamma Island - to be discussed jointly with Economic Services Panel; and

  2. Phase 1 of Environmental Impact Assessment for Stage II of the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme.

3. As regards the environmental issues relating to the proposed public housing development project at Woodside in Quarry Bay, the Chairman informed that the subject would be discussed by Duty Roster Members at an open meeting with the Administration on 31 July 1998. It was agreed that the Panel would await the outcome of the discussion before deciding whether the subject should be included in the agenda for the meeting on 11 September 1998.

(Post-meeting note - Duty Roster Members had decided that the subject needed not be followed up by the Panel. Meanwhile, the subject of new power station at Lamma Island, which would be discussed by the Economic Services Panel in October 1998, had been replaced by air quality study in Pearl River Delta Region.)

4. Members agreed that the following items would be included in the list of outstanding items for discussion -

  1. Environmental issues relating to the operation of the new airport; and

  2. Waste Reduction Study.

III Information papers issued since last meeting

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

IV Trade Effluent Surcharge Scheme
(Paper No. CB(1)78/98-99(01) and (02))

6. The Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment) (DS/PEL(E)) briefly reported the progress of the Trade Effluent Surcharge (TES) Review. He informed members that since the implementation of the TES Scheme (the Scheme), there had been clear improvements in the working practices of the restaurant trade in bringing down the pollution load of effluents. Improvements included cleaner kitchens, proper use of grease traps and the separation of food scraps. He referred members to the information paper provided which set out the way forward in improving the efficiency in the administration of the Scheme, which included simplifying and streamlining appeal procedures and changing the existing charging basis. As regards the recommendations made by consultants of incorporating more trades to the Scheme, DS/PEL(E) advised that the Administration was not prepared to do so in the absence of funding support, nor did it see merit from the point of practicality in spending significant sums of public money in order to impose small charges on a number of relatively small businesses. The Administration proposed to continue to apply the Scheme to the trades currently covered by the Scheme and to press ahead with the changes to the appeal procedure with a view to bringing down the cost to the appellants and the public.

7. Regarding members' enquiries on the results of public consultation on the TES Review, DS/PEL(E) advised that the outcome of the six-week public consultation from April to June 1997 had been reported to the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs at its meeting on 20 June 1997. Meanwhile, a paper on the Administration's response to comments received had been discussed by members of the Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs at its meeting on 23 January 1998. The Administration's present proposals had incorporated recommendations made by the restaurant trade which included the idea of grab sampling, initiation of appeals by Drainage Services Department(DSD), extension of validity of appeal results and changing the approach from appeal to reassessment as the latter would be less confrontational.

8. Responding to a member's query as to why the restaurant trade was not included in the list of trades whose discharge factors were to be reassessed, the Business Manager, Drainage Services Department (BM/DSD) explained that the trades identified as suitable candidates for reassessing their discharge factors were identified by the independent consultants and they saw no reason to look at the restaurant trade because the discharge factor assigned to the trade was considered reasonable. Every restaurant had the right to put forward its appeal against its discharge factor. Since 1 April 1995, DSD had received 140 appeals from a total of 12,000 TES accounts asking for a review of the discharge factor. While a majority of these appeals were from restaurateurs, this had to be set against the 9,000 restaurant accounts in Hong Kong. It would therefore suggest that most restaurants were content with their standard discharge factor being assigned to them.

9. A member enquired whether the data of successful appeal could be used as the basis for future charges. BM/DSD advised that any revised basis of charging, if agreed, would apply for three years, after which time the reassessment would have to be re-submitted by the appellant.

10. As regards the provision of assistance to the restaurant trade in reducing their effluent strength, DS/PEL(E) explained that the Administration recognized the difficulties being experienced by the trade and was working closely with restaurateurs in resolving their problems. There had been a recent seminar held with the Hong Kong Productivity Council for the restaurant trade on the practices within restaurant kitchens and the design of more environmentally friendly restaurant kitchens. Staff of Environmental Protection Department (EPD) made regular visits to restaurants, providing guidance on how effluent strengths could be lowered. DS/PEL(E) considered that the aforementioned measures, coupled with the changes proposed in the appeal mechanism, would make the TES Scheme more acceptable to the restaurant trade. Furthermore, there were administrative arrangements for DSD to initiate group reassessments where applicable. The Administration was keen to help the restaurant trade in overcoming their difficulties and reduce their costs. The Acting Assistant Director (Waste and Water) Environmental Protection Department (AD/EPD) added that EPD had been actively encouraging cleaner working practices within restaurant kitchens which included the separation of food scraps and the installation of grease traps. Information pamphlets and guidelines for better working practices were issued to restaurateurs. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and the Centre for Environmental Technology had also been active in providing assistance to the restaurant trade in overcoming their problems in reducing their effluent strength.

11. A member opined that rather than relying on information pamphlets, the Administration should consider setting up a demonstration centre displaying the different grease traps available for reducing the differing pollution loads of effluent. The centre should also aim at providing guidance on cleaner working practices to restaurant operators, particularly those working in kitchens.

12. AD/EDP concurred that it would be useful for restaurateurs to visit kitchens with good practices. She supplemented that there had been marked improvements in the working practices in some kitchens since the implementation of the TES Scheme. Photographs of some of the cleaner kitchens were taken to be used as reference by other restaurant operators during seminars. A few of the more exemplary kitchens could be identified by the restaurant trade and made known to other restaurant operators.

13. Responding to members' concern about the high costs of appeal which would unfairly penalize restaurateurs, DS/PEL(E) advised that the cost of appeal based on current procedures ranged from $20,000 to $40,000. With the changes proposed in simplifying and streamlining appeal procedures, the costs could be brought down to between $12,000 and $24,000, depending on the volume of discharge. BM/DSD added that when the Scheme was first devised, it was the intention that those seeking a review of their TES charges would be required to meet the cost of supplying the evidence to support their claim. The arrangement was meant to avoid frivolous appeals.

14. As regards the Chairman's enquiry on whether any loan schemes were available to facilitate smaller restaurants in their appeals, DS/PEL(E) said that he was not aware of any such schemes but agreed to look into the matter.

15. Regarding the Administration's decision of not incorporating more trades into the TES Scheme, members were advised that any decision to impose TES must be based on scientific assessment and on the analysis of the cost benefit to the community of imposing the charge. Preliminary cost benefit analysis indicated that the additional costs of extending the TES Scheme to the seven other trades which included printing, garage, tobacco manufacture, petrol stations, markets, medical laboratories and barber/beauty shops would be excessive and disproportionate when set against the likely level of charge that the effluent discharges from these trades might incur. On balance, the Administration had decided not to consider incorporating more trades to the Scheme in the present economic climate.

16. A member opined that the generic Chemical Oxygen Demand value and the discharge factor being assigned to the restaurant trade were unfair and called for a review of the system of charging. She pointed out that because of space constraints, it would be difficult for restaurants to install large grease traps to lower their effluent load. She suggested that the Panel should convene another meeting to receive deputations from the restaurant trade to express their views. She also took the opportunity to warn the seven trades which had not been included in the Scheme of their possible future inclusion.

17. DS/PEL(E) reiterated that the Administration would not consider incorporating the seven trades in the Scheme at this stage.

18. Another member wished to place on record that the medical laboratories, being of one of the seven trades which had been shortlisted by the consultant as one of the potential TES trades, were discharging chemical and clinical wastes and that these should be taken into consideration when the Scheme was further reviewed.

19. Summing up the discussion, the Chairman said that there were basically two issues which needed to be followed up. They were the provision of more proactive measures to assist the restaurant trade in lowering their effluent strength and the feasibility of setting up loan schemes to facilitate smaller restaurants in their appeals.

20. In response, DS/PEL(E) stated that a lot of restaurants had taken initiatives in adopting better working practices to lower their effluent strength since the introduction of the TES Scheme and the Administration had also been helping the trade to reduce their effluent strength through cooperation with various industry support organizations. He undertook to provide for members' reference a report on the types of assistance so far conducted and to be conducted by the Administration. In addition, he agreed to explore the feasibility of members' suggestion of providing loan schemes to assist restaurateurs in their appeals. He however stressed that these appeals should not be made at the expense of tax-payers.

21. Members agreed to meet again on the subject upon receipt of the requisite information from the Administration. Consideration would be given to inviting representatives from the restaurant trade to the meeting when the Scheme was further discussed.

V Aircraft noise
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1)78/98-99(03) and (04))

22. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Deputy Director of Civil Aviation (Operations and Standards) (DD/CAD) briefly explained the various assessments to determine the effects of aircraft noise impacts that were made during the airport master planning process. For the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines stipulated a more stringent criterion of Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) 25 contour for planning of noise sensitive land uses. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) indicated that all noise sensitive developments were outside the coverage of the NEF 25 contour, with the exception of a small number of villages in North Lantau, predominantly in Sha Lo Wan.

Meeting with the Aircraft Noise Concern Committee

23. Mr Albert CHAN, Tsuen Wan Provisional District Board member stated that as a former member of the Advisory Council on the Environment, he was not aware of any measures being proposed by the Administration to address the problem of aircraft noise associated with the new airport. Neither was there any mention in the EIA report that the noise nuisance resulting from aircraft could be as high as 75 decibels(dB(A)) within the NEF 25 contour. Since the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, over a million residents in North Lantau, Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi, Ma Wan and Shatin had been exposed to nuisance caused by aircraft noise. He held the view that the public had been misled by the Administration about the aircraft noise problem and demanded the Administration to give a detailed explanation.

24. As regards the noise problem at Sha Lo Wan, Mr CHAN expressed concern that the Administration had failed to honour its promise of providing mitigation measures to alleviate the noise nuisance affecting the residents there. He pointed out the need for the Administration to help relocate these residents to quieter surroundings.

25. Ms LI CHAN Mui-ha, Chairman, Incorporated Owners of Greenwood Terrace (Shatin) drew members' attention to the fact that Shatin used to be a quiet district with background noise level at around 46 dB(A) only. With the opening of the new airport, there had been occasions where noise levels of up to 70 to 80 dB(A) were generated by aircraft overflying Shatin. This was a far cry from the tranquil environment which Shatin residents were used to have. It was to her understanding that aircraft preparing for landing would generate the most noise and unfortunately the Greenwood Terrace and most Shatin areas were under the flight path of descending aircraft. Affected residents had found the noise most difficult to bear.

26. Ms LI referred members to some of the flight statistics which she obtained from the Civil Aviation Department (CAD). According to CAD's projection, the number of daily flights would increase from the present 230 to 469 in the year 2000. As such, the noise nuisance generated from aircraft would be expected to increase considerably. She also queried the choice of flight paths and wanted to know whether these could be altered and whether coordination with other airports in the Mainland was necessary. She also called for the release of all consultancy reports relating to the designation of flight paths.

27. Ms LI also pointed out that the noise measurements conducted at Shatin District on 20 July 1998 by CAD did not reflect the actual situation since these were taken after 9 pm when flight movements had become less frequent. She requested another measurement be made by a third party.

28. Miss Ho Suk-ping, Shatin Provisional District Board member said that she failed to understand why there had not been any public consultation on the noise impact of the operation of the new airport at the district level. She pointed out that the Shatin Provisional District Board had been consulted by the China Light and Power Company Limited when it planned to build a landing area for helicopters at the rooftop of its headquarters in Shatin. She queried why the Administration had not conducted any public consultation on such a major development as the airport which affected millions of people in Hong Kong. She expressed concern about the cumulative impact with the operation of the second runway, when the airport would be operating round the clock. She demanded the Administration to explore the feasibility of locating alternative flight paths which would alleviate the noise impact on residents.

29. Mr CHAN Sung-ip, Tsuen Wan Provisional District Board member said that the aircraft noise levels as measured by residents of Ma Wan were much higher than that as recorded by CAD. The busiest hours were between 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm with aircraft landing and departing within three minutes from each other. Residents of Ma Wan who were used to a tranquil environment had found this most annoying, particularly in the early hours of the morning.

30. In response to the deputation's comments, representatives of the Administration made the following points -

  1. The noise impact arising from aircraft operation could be represented by NEF, which took into account the duration of flyover, the peak noise level, the tonal characteristics and the number of aircraft movements in both daytime and night time period;

  2. For the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, a more stringent criterion of NEF 25 contour had been used in the planning of noise sensitive land uses. This was in line with the international standards adopted by many developed countries;

  3. According to a recent survey, noise levels at Shatin were between 61 to 72 dB(A) while Tsing Yi were between 64 to 74 dB(A). Taking into account the frequency of overflying aircraft, these areas were found to be subject to a noise impact of below NEF25 which was within internationally accepted standards;

  4. In the preparation of EIA of the new airport in 1991, NEF 25 contour was adopted as the planning standard. It was estimated that noise levels generated by aircraft could reach more than 80 dB(A) at villages around Sha Lo Wan and that land use planning should take into account the noise impacts arising from aircraft; and

  5. The Administration was prepared to make reassessment of aircraft noise levels at a time specified by the residents.

Meeting with the Administration

31. A member enquired whether the Administration had taken into account the noise impact in its choice of site of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok and whether there had been marked deviation from the original noise assessment.

32. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services (New Airport) PAS/ES(NA) said that he appreciated the sentiments of affected residents who did not hear any aircraft noise previously. In planning the new airport, the noise assessment was conducted using an internationally accepted approach. The criterion of NEF 25 contour was adopted and was in line with the standard adopted by many developed countries. The EIA study completed in 1991/92 and its update in 1997/98 indicated that all noise sensitive developments were outside the coverage of the NEF 25 contour, with the exception of a small number of villages in Lantau, predominantly in Sha Lo Wan. Since the operation of the new airport, staff of Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and CAD had conducted noise measurements in Sai Kung, Shatin, Kwai Chung, Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi. The results indicated that these districts were outside the NEF 25 contour and there was no major deviation from those forecast by the EIA. The noise levels were in compliance with international standards.

33. A member was of the view that rather than using NEF, most people would prefer to use dB(A) which was commonly used in measuring noise levels. He opined that noise levels of up to 70 dB(A) should not be considered acceptable.

34. The Principal Environmental Protection Officer reiterated that in the planning of noise sensitive land uses, the internationally accepted NEF should be adopted in the evaluation of aircraft generated noise.

35. A member queried whether the internationally accepted NEF 25 contour could be applicable to the Hong Kong situation given that it was such a small and densely populated area. He also requested the Administration to provide information on all the possible alignments of flight paths and to release the EIA report for members' scrutiny. He also wanted to know the reasons why the present Runway 25, which was extended and therefore affecting more residents, was chosen.

36. Other members were more concerned about the number of residents affected and the cumulative impact of the second runway when the airport operated to its designed capacity. A member suggested minimizing the noise impact by prohibiting the use of Runway 25 from the northeasterly direction from 11:30 pm to 6:30 am and instead restricting the flight path to Runway 07 which would affect fewer residents. The member said that if the Administration was not prepared to do so, he might consider introducing a Member's Bill to achieve this effect.

37. Members generally agreed on the need to explore the feasibility of identifying an alternative flight path which could minimize the noise impact generated by aircraft. They also wanted to know what other remedial actions could be taken, apart from the re-alignment of flight paths.

38. With the use of a map, the Air Traffic General Manager, Civil Aviation Department explained the background to the choice of site and the reasons for choosing the present flight paths. He pointed out that since Hong Kong was a hilly territory, operation of the new airport was significantly constrained by local terrain and the hills in Lantau and the New Territories left very little flexibility for the alignment of flight paths. To ensure flight safety and adequate clearance from terrain, aircraft landing using Runway 25 was established. It overflew Shatin, Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi. In response to the complaints and proposals from the public, CAD had conducted studies to see if this flight path could be adjusted to avoid overflying all residential locations. However, it was found that due to stringent requirements in regard to flight safety and design of flight procedures, the final straight approach overflying Shatin, Tsuen wan and Tsing Yi could not be adjusted. He further advised that the time and frequency of using the Runway 25 approach track depended on the wind direction and strength. When the wind on the runway of the new airport was from the southerly or westerly direction, aircraft would have to use the Runway 25 approach. In summer when Hong Kong was under the influence of the southwest monsoon, the need for using Runway 25 was much greater. However, in winter and spring when the major wind direction was from the northeast and east, another Runway 07 would mostly be used which would avoid overflying residential developments. The choice of using Runway 25 or Runway 07 would strictly be based on wind direction and safety and could not be adjusted.

39. Regarding the number of residents affected, DD/CAD provided the following information -

Number of residents affected
Noise levelKai TakChek Lap Kok
(a) within NEF 25 contour760,000 around 200 (150 houses)
(b) within NEF 30 contour380,000 0
(c) over 65 dB(A)1,100,000480,000

40. In view of time constraints, members agreed to hold another meeting on 18 August 1998 to continue with the discussion on aircraft noise. Summing up the requests by members and the deputation, the Chairman asked the Administration to -

  1. assess the number of persons affected by aircraft noise and the noise impacts when Chek Lap Kok Airport operates with a single runway now, two runways in the near future, and at designed capacity;

  2. inform members of the public the proposed alignment of flight paths for the second runway;

  3. provide information on all possible alignments of flight paths which were in conformity with international standards and the reasons for selecting the current alignments;

  4. make re-measurements with affected residents on aircraft noise levels in areas under the flight paths;

  5. introduce mitigation measures to alleviate noise impact on residents of Sha Lo Wan including relocating the affected residents;

  6. consider prohibiting landing or taking off of flights at the new airport during a certain period of a day;

  7. release the minutes of meetings of the Advisory Council on the Environment at which the findings of the EIA Study on the new airport were discussed, and to advise the Administration's undertaking on implementation of noise mitigation measures at such meetings; and

  8. provide information pertinent to the subject of aircraft noise in respect of the new airport such as consultancy reports and findings of investigations.

41. The Chairman requested that the requisite information be submitted to the Panel prior to the meeting on 18 August 1998.

(Post-meeting note: The Administration's response was circulated to members vide LC Paper No.(CB(1)111/98-99(02).)

VI Any other business

42. There being no other business, the meeting closed at 12:45 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
4 September 1998