Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (August 2001)
The HKIP fully supports the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance as an effective mechanism in the pursuance of sustainable development in Hong Kong. The Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance was enacted in 1997 and came into effect in April 1998. Since then, EIAs became statutory for designated projects and legally binding permits which list out the required mitigation measures have to be obtained before the works are carried out.
Recently, there are concerns on the effect of Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance on the implementation of infrastructure and building projects especially in the arena of construction site management and the depth of Environmental Impact Assessment for options selection at early study stage. We believe that there is room for improvement possibly through streamlining of administrative procedures and enhancement of accountability of decision makers.
With the establishment of the Sustainable Development Council, we are concerned about how the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance can best be integrated into the set up of new institutional mechanism. In order to streamline the procedure and to avoid unnecessary wastage of efforts and resources, we expect the EPD to take up a proactive role in the early stage of the EIA process, especially for Government projects. Being part of the Government and part of the decision-making body, and as an expert in environmental protection, the EPD should act as an advisor to Government on the calculated risk that might have to be taken in engaging in different development scenarios at strategic as well as project assessment levels. The EPD should also carry out territorial baseline studies to fully map our natural resources and come into agreement with stakeholders on the definition of various terms as well as conservation value of different species, ecological significant areas or landscape protection spots. It is considered that early consultation with the stakeholders and the public on the environmental impacts of various projects will help reaching a consensus for our future development.
Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance is a statutory mechanism which is fundamental in sustaining our future environment. It is essential that it should be maintained clear, transparent, fair to everybody and allow for public participation. It is also a means where public education can take part. EPD, as the administrative body, is expected to adopt a new and proactive strategy in the new era.
Public Affairs Committee
Hong Kong Institute of Planners
4 August 2001