Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 46, Environmental Impact Assessment Bill – Forty years champion for the environment

Environmental Impact Assessment Bill

Before the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance was enacted, a rudimentary form of EIA was practiced as an administrative arrangement but with little understanding from the community.

In 1991, the EIA reports of the West Kowloon Reclamation were published for public inspection, but drew immediate fire from CA which objected to the lack of transparency as government provided only photocopies, without explanation or any enquiry point. But above all, there was no legislative requirement on EIA, making it a mere procedure for mitigation of impacts from predetermined projects. CA proposed that there should instead be a statutory EIA process with a two-step consultation: at the start of the EIA study and after the study is completed. EIA reports should be centralized in an EIA information centre which should be open to the public.

CA’s campaign for a statutory EIA regime received a boost when it called on and obtained the support of Prof Wang Gungwu, Chairman of EPCOM, in December 1992. A month later, under the name of its Chairman Fung Shiu Wing, CA wrote to Peter Wong, Convenor of LegCo’s Environmental Panel on the need for a mandatory EIA process.

CA’s lobbying paid off when government began drafting an EIA Bill. The gist was that EIA’s should be required for “designated projects” and be open to public participation. Upon approval of an EIA report, the Director of Environmental Protection would issue an Environmental Permit which would clear the way from the environmental point of view for the project to go ahead. Significantly, heritage impact was also included as part of the EIA process. Throughout 1994 CA continued to contribute comments on the Bill, focusing on public participation and the need for discretion to apply the EIA requirement also to non-designated projects. Questions were also raised about responsibilities in case of non-compliance of permit conditions.

In January 1996 the EIA Bill was gazetted. CA organized a forum in June 1996 to discuss the bill. The Bill was passed into law in January 1997, with a set of Technical Memorandum adopted later.

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May 23, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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