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Incineration of Municipal Waste in MSW Incinerators

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Bridge project on man-made island breached environmental permit, says Hong Kong green group

Ernest Kao ernest.kao@scmp.com

A green group claims the Highways Department violated the conditions of an environmental permit for a man-made island that forms part of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project by failing to declare significant changes in reclamation work.

Green Sense says that the location plans it had inspected in the nine amended environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports clearly showed that cylindrical steel cells – sunk into the seabed in a circular form and filled with debris – were to be used along the entire length of the seawall structure.

But two years ago the department’s contractor had begun using rubble mounds in some of the seawalls that may have caused more marine pollution, without noting the change in any of its nine amended assessments.

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong said this could amount to a breach of the EIA ordinance, which states that any variation to a report must prove “no material change to the environmental impact”.

Tam added that the Highways Department should not have let the contractor do this just to speed up work.

He also said the Environmental Protection Department had failed in its job to check the Highways Department.

“It is clear that this was a major change and if the EPD had allowed this, then we believe it to be a serious mishap and a defeat in the ordinance’s purpose.”

Tam said he would write to the Department of Justice urging them to take legal action and called on the relevant departments to take responsibility.

Last week the Highways Department admitted that flaws in the reclamation process were the reason part of the artificial island had drifted up to seven metres, sparking concerns of safety and cost overruns.

It said the movements were due to the use of steel seawalls, which eliminate the need for dredging, being used in the city for the first time.

The Highways Department said it had consulted the EPD and both methods were “non-dredge methods” with less environmental impact. “The EPD considered that the concerned amendments on works details involved no change to the … EIA report and no variation to the [permit] would be required.”

Environment minister Wong Kam-sing also said the project complied with permit requirements. He said silt curtains would help keep sludge from spewing into surrounding waters.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1861933/bridge-project-man-made-island-breached

Clear the Air’s view on meetings with the non-negotiable HK Airport Authority

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UNIVERSAL POLITICS (including Hong Kong) GRAPHICALLY EXPLAINED

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Cathay Pacific, Dragonair struggle to grow cargo volumes amid China slowdown

CTA says: Which means the bridge to nowhere connecting HKG with HKAA’s 55% investment in Zhuhai airport management, will be another white elephant

PRD too expensive now so the big guys moved out and north.

Cathay Pacific Airways and its wholly owned unit Dragonair barely achieved growth in cargo volumes last month, underscoring concerns over a slowdown in exports from China.

Volumes grew just 1.5 per cent to 157,688 tonnes from the same month a year earlier, Cathay Pacific said on Thursday.

“The cargo traffic growth of 1.5 per cent is weak. This is a cause for concern. Chinese exports fell sharply in March. The cargo traffic of Cathay Pacific and Dragonair followed the Chinese export trend,” said Ajith Kom, a Singapore-based analyst with UOB Kay Hian Research.

In March, China’s exports fell 15 per cent year on year, according to official data. Cargo services accounted for 20.5 per cent of the combined revenue of Cathay Pacific and Dragonair in the first half of 2014, while passenger services made up 74.7 per cent, according to the company’s 2014 interim report.

 

The March figures provided a brighter picture on the passenger front. The two carriers boosted passenger numbers by a bigger than expected 11 per cent to 2.89 million from a year earlier.

Mark Sutch, Cathay Pacific general manager of cargo sales and marketing, said: “Air freight demand was generally robust throughout March, helped by the month-end and quarter-end production rush out of the key manufacturing cities in mainland China.”

In the first quarter, passenger traffic rose 8.6 per cent, just short of an 8.7 per cent growth forecast by Citi, while cargo and mail tonnage increased 12.3 per cent.

For the first two months of the year, passenger traffic grew 7.4 per cent and cargo tonnage soared 19.6 per cent. For the whole of last year, passenger numbers increased at a slower pace of 5.5 per cent, while mail and cargo tonnage rose 12 per cent.

“March is traditionally a shoulder season between the Chinese New Year and Easter peak periods, but this year saw passenger demand for the month rising above expectations. Demand was strong in all cabins, with high load factors to and from southwest Pacific, Europe and the UK,” said Patricia Hwang, Cathay Pacific general manager of revenue management.

JP Morgan, in a research report, cited Cathay Pacific management as saying the improvement in operations from last year has continued in the first quarter, adding that the company was positive about the Hong Kong-listed firm’s overall prospects for 2015.

 

Source URL (modified on Apr 16th 2015, 8:25pm): http://www.scmp.com/business/china-business/article/1767779/cathay-pacific-dragonair-struggle-grow-cargo-volumes-amid

Increased tourism benefits tygoons most and brings with it increased pollution levels

Clear the Air says:

increased tourism benefits tygoons most and brings with it increased pollution levels, residents’ increased  discomfort, stupid uncontrolled rentals and increased cost of living, shortage of daily necessities + profiteering + increased energy requirements adding to our already high pollution load.

Currently Hong Kong revealed it is asking PRC Govt to stem the flow of daily visitors from Shenzhen

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1765840/job-opportunities-open-hongkongers-new-visa-restrictions-look-set#comment-214511

This is expected to have little immediate effect and a decrease of 4.6m Shenzhen visitors after one year.

CTA says the Mainland Govt is at fault for failing to ensure the availability of genuine products in its shops and corrupt Customs officers allowing the products to enter PRC daily without duty or VAT payments –  They need a separate ‘Goods to Declare Red channel’ with appropriate search and duty payment delays to stem the flow of parallel trading mule ‘ants’.

The Individual Visit Scheme started at HKG’s request during the SARS epidemic in 2003, which caused a major tourism slump Leader Tung Kin Wah did not ask the Mainland that it should end after SARS disappeared

In 2002 HKG had 6.8m Mainland visitors

In 2003 HKG tourist total was 15.54m of which 8.5m were Mainlanders

In 2014 HKG had 60.84m tourists of which 47.25m were Mainlanders

By Comparison tourist arrivals here in 2014 : Ex Taiwan 2.03m, Ex USA 1.13m

Our current tiny infrastructure was not built to handle this continuing increase in visitor load whilst already being surrounded on 3 sides by highly polluting shipping and no Emissions Control Area in place, overbuilt high rises shoulder to shoulder creating urban canyons to trap airborne and roadside pollutants without any dispersing windflow, coal being used to generate power for CLP to sell 23% of its annual total generation basket back into PRD and old buses ending up shoulder to shoulder in congested areas instead of having electric hybrid shuttles on Nathan Rd, Causeway Bay, Central which should be designated ‘Clean Air Zones’!  Whatever happened to Ministerial Accountability ? well, the Buck is on the denial roundabout.

DoDo Govt Minister for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So predicted HKG visitors would eventually reach 100m within the decade

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1407779/visitor-numbers-can-rise-70m-three-years-commission-says?page=all

By comparison in the massive land mass area of the USA, they received 74.7m visitors in 2014

UK tourist in 2013 – 35 million  http://www.tourismalliance.com/downloads/TA_365_390.pdf

In summary:

Hong Kong landmass      426 square miles /1,104 km2                          2014 visitors        60.8m = 55,072 visitors per km2

USA  landmass                3.8 million square miles / 9,857,306 km²         2014 visitors        74.7m = 7.58 visitors per km2

UK landmass                   94,060 sq miles /243,610 km2                        2013 visitors        35m    = 144 visitors per km2

From 2003 SARS to 2014 Locust Xenophobia:

www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1314rb06-individual-visit-scheme-20140507-e.pdf

Timeline:

2002- 6.8m ex PRC visit HKG

2003- June SARS hits HKG- Tourism slump  leads to IVS implementation at HKG request-  Total visitors 15.54m / 8.5m  mainlanders

Individual visit scheme (IVS) starts for Beijing, Shanghai, Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Zhongshan

IVS extended in 21 Guangdong cities, &  9  cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, & Fujian July 2004

667,000 IVS arrivals

2007-  IVS extended to 49 mainland cities

Tourism Board CEO ex PMI nicotine pusher Anthony Lau Chun-hon starts work

2009- Shenzhen introduces multiple-entry permit scheme for permanent residents

IVS 11m mainlanders of whom > 1.4m  use multiple-entry permits (MEPs)

2014- Of 60.84m visitors, 47,25m are ex PRC

30m mainlanders IVS, 14.9m use MEPs- Each averages 9.1 visits per year

Partnernet: Total  in 2014

Comparison tourist arrivals here

Ex Taiwan 2.03m

Ex USA 1.13m

http://partnernet.hktb.com/filemanager/intranet/ViS_Stat/ViS_Stat_E/ViS_E_2014/Tourism_Stat_12_2014_0.pdf

http://partnernet.hktb.com/en/research_statistics/latest_statistics/index.html

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Hong Kong’s third-world water management system in urgent need of repair

20 March 2015

Asit K. Biswas

Over the past several decades, Hong Kong’s water supply and wastewater management practices have been on an unsustainable path. Poor planning, absence of sustained interest from its top policymakers, an uninformed public, lack of regular media scrutiny and a series of poor policy interventions have ensured that, today, it lags behind nearly all cities of similar levels of economic development in its management of water.

Hong Kong is a net water importer. Currently, 70-80 per cent is imported from Guangdong’s Dongjiang through multiple agreements. The Audit Commission reported in 1999 that the planners had so badly overestimated city water requirements in the 1989 agreement that some 716 million cubic metres of water literally went down the drain, which cost taxpayers, between 1994 and 1998, HK$1.7 billion.

Even after this sad performance, the next agreement was even worse. The requirement was again another overestimate. Consequently, between 2006 and 2012, the city had to pay for seven years of water imports but in reality used only about six years of water. This over-estimation cost the taxpayers another HK$2.8 billion.

As an adviser to 19 governments, I am not aware of a single city anywhere in the world which has consistently overestimated water requirements so badly for over two decades.

Not only has overestimation been a serious problem, but also no serious policy measures were taken to manage domestic and industrial water demands. At present, average water use in Hong Kong is about 220 litres per capita per day, a figure that is higher than in 2003. This is bad management since in nearly all similar cities of the world, the usage trends are generally declining because of better management practices and increasing awareness of the people that water is a scarce resource.

Accordingly, inhabitants of cities like Hamburg and Barcelona use about half that of an average Hongkonger. In Singapore, per capita water use has steadily come down in recent decades. It is now 152 litres per capita per day, which is still on the high side. An average Hongkonger uses 45 per cent more.

One of the reasons for this very high usage is because water and wastewater provisioning has been subsidised at higher levels with each passing year. The water tariff has remained the same since 1995, but costs of services have gone up steadily. This has resulted in some ridiculous situations, like the city providing private bottled water companies with highly subsidised water, which at the retail level is being sold at over 1,000 times the cost of city water.

The present pricing structure means that a round 14 per cent of Hong Kong residents do not pay for water and sewerage services. Each household now receives completely free 12 cubic metres of water every four months irrespective of their ability to pay. This is in contrast to Singapore, where its national water agency, PUB, not only completely recovers its costs but also makes a profit.

Furthermore, in Hong Kong, there have been no consistent attempts to educate the citizens on the importance of water as a strategic resource. This is again in sharp contrast to Singapore, where the population is regularly made aware of the value of water. The interactive permanent exhibitions of wastewater treatment and water management at its NEWater Visitor Centre and Marina Barrage have become major tourist destinations.

When compared to other Asian cities of similar levels of per capita gross domestic product, like Singapore, Tokyo or Osaka, urban water management in Hong Kong comes out very poorly. But even when compared to some cities in developing countries, like Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, Hong Kong does not fare well.

For the past 15 years, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has outclassed Hong Kong. Like in Hong Kong, Phnom Penh residents receive clean water which can be drunk straight from the tap. Both the poor and the rich pay for water at affordable prices, and no one receives free water, as in Hong Kong.

Phnom Penh’s water authority, a public-sector autonomous corporation, has been consistently profitable for over a decade and receives no subsidy. All its performance indicators have been consistently better than Hong Kong’s, with many of them better than in London or Los Angeles. Its planning and execution have also surpassed Hong Kong’s. For example, Phnom Penh’s bill collection ratio is almost 100 per cent, and unaccounted-for losses from the water system are about 6.5 per cent, compared to about 17 per cent in Hong Kong.

The question the Hong Kong public and policymakers need to ask and answer is: how did a third world city like Phnom Penh, which has limited technical and administrative capacities, no private sector to speak of, inadequate educational and management facilities and poor governance practices, manage to leapfrog a world-class city like Hong Kong so thoroughly in little over a decade?

Urban water management is not rocket science. There is no reason why any city of more than 200,000 people cannot have a good water system. It is high time for Hong Kong to do some serious soul-searching and find solutions which can radically improve its present urban water system.

Asit K. Biswas is the Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. An adviser to 19 countries, he received the Stockholm Water Prize, equivalent to a Nobel Prize in the area of water, in 2006.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1742839/hong-kongs-third-world-water-management-system-urgent-need

Hong Kong Zero Waste Zero Effort

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Taking the plunge

http://www.macaubusiness.com/news/taking-the-plunge-2.html

On Christmas Eve, the government wrapped up the second phase of a proposed Harbourfront Authority initiative which would oversee the development of Hong Kong’s 73-km shoreline.

Mary Ann Benitez examines what’s next for the Fragrant Harbour

By Mary Ann Benitez*

Just next to Victoria Harbour smack in the northern fringes of the financial district a Great European Carnival and the Observation Wheel compete for dollars from thrill-seeking Hongkongers.

The space is called the New Harbourfront in Central, a reclaimed chunk of the iconic harbour for which Hong Kong has been named.

The AIA-sponsored carnival runs until February 22 with the organiser hoping to attract a million visitors, while the big Wheel to date has not created the buzz that London Eye has generated for the UK.

But concern groups are saying such entertainment facilities are not really what they want from the 73-kilometer harbourfront.

On December 24, the Harbourfront Commission and the Development Bureau concluded its phase 2 consultation for the proposed Harbourfront Authority (HFA). The three-month public engagement exercise was launched on

September 25 to gauge public opinion on the proposed detailed framework for the HFA.

The HFA will adopt an ‘incremental land allocation and development strategy’, with the plan calling for the government to inject a dedicated fund to cover the capital costs of developing designated sites.

Harbourfront Commission chairman Nicholas Brooke said that the priority of the HFA when it is established should be given to sites that are ripe for development so that it can capitalise on its “creativity and flexibility”.

The HFA will directly develop and manage 12 sites totalling 34 hectares on newly reclaimed land over the next decade. These are the New Central harbourfront, Wanchai-North Point harbourfront, reclaimed land in Causeway Bay, a waterfront park in Quarry Bay, a promenade in Kwun Tong and a new public space abutting the Hung Hom ferry pier.

“The HFA may seek the Legislative Council’s approval to draw resources from the dedicated fund when a project is ready for implementation”, he added.

The Authority could encourage activities on the waterfront, which are not welcomed however, such as alfresco dining, cycling and street performances. It is envisaged that the Authority would function as a ‘one-stop shop’ to reflect public demand for interaction with the harbour. It will eventually take responsibility for all the sites lining Hong Kong’s picture postcard waterway.

The Chairman of the Harbourfront Commission’s Core Group for Public Engagement, Vincent Ng, said, “We propose that the HFA should have three major functions, which are governance and management, advisory and advocacy, and executive functions”.

The 20-member board and a team of civil servants will be seconded to it to form a “dedicated” government team to support its operation while “suitable talent” from the private sector can also be recruited to assist the work of the team.

The Harbourfront Commission should be disbanded upon the establishment of the HFA “to avoid confusion or the perception of multi-layering”, advocates Ng.

The HFA will assume responsibility for the current advisory and advocacy role of the Commission in relation to Victoria Harbourfront.

“Even though we have put forth a proposal for public consultation, it doesn’t mean that we have already got the perfect answer for all the questions arising from the harbourfront management”, Ng said.

A 150-metre People’s Liberation Army berth on the new Central waterfront will be excluded from the HKFA’s ambit even though the government has pledged that the site will be open to the public when it is not used by the military.

A judicial review has been launched by pressure group Designing Hong Kong on the berth, which was rezoned for military use last February.

The Chairman of think tank Land Watch and former lawmaker, Lee Wing-tat, has told Hong Kong media, “The PLA pier will become a focus of tension for the new Authority. Should it allow students to stage class boycotts there?”

Brooke maintains that the HKFA can create its own by-laws or regulatory framework “for management, maintenance and operation of its waterfront sites. It could allow alfresco dining”.

Two months into the consultation exercise, Brooke told The Standard in November that the response to the idea of an Authority has so far been positive.

“We’ve spoken to district councils, chambers, professions and interest groups. The feedback has been that we could be more ambitious. It reflects the views of the community. And there’s a degree of impatience from people, which I completely understand”, he said.

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau told Macau Business that the government has conducted 19 briefings or forums for the public, Legislative Council, District Councils, professional bodies and business chambers with over 450 attendees.

There were 21 written submissions and 142 completed questionnaires as of December 23, a day before the close of the engagement exercise.

“We have engaged the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong to conduct an independent analysis of all the public views received during the Phase II Public Engagement Exercise”, the spokeswoman said.

All the written comments received will be uploaded to the dedicated website (www.hfc.org.hk/hape) this month.

“The HKU is also expected to complete its report in the first quarter of 2015. HKU’s report will also be made publicly available upon its completion”, she said. “Taking into account the views received, the Harbourfront Commission and the government will consider the way forward after the completion of Phase II PE”.

Paul Zimmerman, District Councillor for Pokfulam and a member of the Harbourfront Commission, told Macau Business, “It’s time for government to start spending money on world class design and management of our waterfronts. And not just Victoria Harbour. Surely the residents of Aberdeen, Ap Lei Chau, Tseung Kwan O and Shatin have the same aspirations for their waterfronts”.

Zimmerman, who is also CEO of Designing HongKong, said the consultation digest and response form fail to address key concerns.

“These include a lack of oversight over the harbour as a whole, the lack of advisory powers over government departments, a lack of legitimacy in land allocation, bias towards commercial operations, and a loss of the public voice on the Board”, he said, maintaining that Designing Hong Kong has been calling since 2004 for an authority to create world class waterfronts.

“Now the shortcomings need to be resolved before the community and legislators support the proposal”, he said.

Zimmerman said the vesting of land should be the last not the first tool in enhancing the waterfront sites.

“To start, we need a strategic plan for Victoria Harbour and its 75km waterfront to justify the location of water-dependent land uses – especially the ones nobody wants: pumping stations, sewage plants, waste transfer stations, concrete batching plants, fish and wholesale markets, container and oil terminals, cargo working areas, passenger piers and landings, water sports centres, fuel and water supply stations, police, Customs, marine department and fire stations”, he said.

“Next, the Authority must develop waterfront plans for each district along Victoria Harbour, identifying land and water-based activities and facilities which the local communities want”.

He has also completed the 10-point questionnaire.

He told Macau Business that the Harbourfront Authority should have no commercial objectives, and that its remit is to implement and deliver harbourfronts agreed with the community.

“Secondly, HFA should be responsible for planning the entire harbourfront and associated marine uses”, he said.

Its functions should cover not only overseeing the development of the entire harbourfront and the management of allocated sites or facilities but also manage associated marine uses.

The first sites to be overseen by the Harbourfront Authority should be the “simple promenades to build up capacity” including the promenades of the Central Ferry Piers, Kwun Tong, Quarry Bay, Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan and Yau Tong. Its planning function should not be limited to the allocated sites.

Zimmerman said the Authority should receive annual subvention for its operation and project funding for funding gaps associated with the development of the sites.

“HFA should be given the resources and mandate to prepare advisory harbourfront enhancement plans for each district in co-operation with the relevant district council, and in consultation with the community”, he said.

Environmental group Clear the Air believes the exercise is useless and that people are discouraged by a government that has no clue despite a public consultation in 2004.

“The government did not understand what it was told in 2004, that what people want are amenities to make (the harbourfront) a tourist attraction and a place for local people to enjoy the harbourfront”, the former chairman of Clear the Air, Christian Masset, told Macau Business.

“In 2004, we told the government what to do. And the government is still asking what should we do? It’s completely contradictory”, said Masset, a teacher and consultant.

“We then know what we want [but] it seems the government has a hidden objective of making more roads”, said Masset.

He said the consultation website using a picture of what a normal harbourfront should look like is “bizarre”.

“The government has no clue what to do or how to set up a beautiful harbourfront because the government has always treated the harbourfront as a road network and not as a place to socialise and to beautify”, he said.

He felt that the government wanted to “create a debate” instead of acting on what had been discussed a decade ago. He cites the new Central Harbourfront.

“If you look at the harbourfront today, it’s empty because it was cut from the centre of the city by the roads. Back in 2004, we told the government you are separating the harbourfront from the city. The harbourfront is not integrated but is severed by this network of roads.

“Therefore, you have a vast space which should have been occupied by bars and restaurants but there’s nothing and people say why do they have to go there? It’s a long walk, it’s difficult,” he said, adding the idea a decade ago was to put the road network underground.

Masset said the Big Wheel was not “a bad idea” as it is easily accessible being near the Star Ferry.

“The idea of the Big Wheel is good but it just occupies a tiny space compared to the vast empty space, which is difficult now to attract people. The original plan was flawed because the roads cut off the whole area from the city. You have to walk a long way. To make the distance acceptable, they really have to put out there some valuable features – a lot of restaurants, interesting places to make the walk worthwhile”, he said.

Even in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Avenue of the Stars is “a shame”, he maintains because “There’s nothing to be proud of, except the view. There’s no place to sit. There’s no bar, there’s a Starbucks. You have to go to an expensive hotel to eat and enjoy the view. You have to be rich to eat and enjoy the harbour or you have to spend on an expensive meal. If you cannot afford an expensive meal in a nice hotel, you’re not allowed to sit and enjoy the harbour. It’s very sad”.

He said his group had not submitted any written submissions for this latest engagement exercise.

“We’re tired of it. We did everything back in 2004. We don’t believe in this consultation exercise”, Masset said.

In 2004, the Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of Winston Chu Ka-sun’s Society for the Protection of the Harbour, against government reclamation work for the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, saying that any reclamation must satisfy the test of overriding public need and be supported by cogent and convincing materials.

It is hoped that reclamation work will have stopped.

*Macau Business Hong Kong contributor.
Assistant news editor of The Standard newspaper

RIP Prof Anthony Johnson Hedley, CTA Honourable Patron

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Clear the Air sincerely regrets to announce the untimely departure of our Honourable Patron

Prof Anthony Johnson Hedley, BBS JP
1941 – 2014

Emeritus Professor (The University of Hong Kong)

FHKAM (Fellow Hong Kong Academy of Medicine) F

HKCCM (Foundation Fellow Hong Kong College of Community Medicine)

Dip Soc Med (University of Edinburgh)

MFPH (Faculty of Public Health RCP, UK)

FRCP (Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London)

MD (University of Aberdeen)
Born 1941
Departed for the Clear Air in the sky, December 19th 2014