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August 22nd, 2011:

London Gets ‘Particulate’ About Air Quality

22 August 2011

As part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s Air Quality Strategy, London’s municipal transportation system will “fast-track and expand” a package of innovative anti-smog measures over the next nine months. The goal is to reduce pollution at the busiest intersections in central London by 10 to20 percent.

The announcement comes after UK Transport Secretary Philip Hammond made an extra £5m ($8 million) in funding available in April to Transport for London, the City bureau responsible for public transit in Greater London.

The extra budget is specifically for a new Clean Air Fund, designed to help London comply withlegally binding European targets for Particulate Matter (PM) 10 and nitrous oxides. TheEuropean Commission (EU) increased pressure on the U.K. recently, warning that if it did not meet standards, the nation could risk fines of up to £300m ($500 million).

The first segment of Clean Air Fund work will comprise three initiatives:

1. The expansion of the application of dust suppressant — biodegradable saline solution (Calcium Magnesium Acetate) — which makes PM10 adhere to the roads and prevents it from recirculating in the air. The dust suppressant pilot study — a U.K.. first — ran from November 2010 to April 2011 at two locations, Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road. Dust suppressant tests also have been conducted in Sweden, Norway, Austria, Italy and Germany

At Victoria Embankment, alone, tests showed that small, repeated applications can effectively reduce PM10 at curbside locations by as much as 14 percent on a daily basis. The scheme will continue to run on Victoria Embankment and Marylebone Road and also will be introduced at Park Lane and corridors such as the A2. In addition, trials at industrial and construction sites will be launched, to help tackle the source of pollutants where there are high levels of PM10. Two additional vehicles are set to be converted to apply the dust suppressant, enabling the two trial sites to be expanded into more areas, including the construction sites.

2. The promotion of a No Engine Idling Campaign, in order to reduce unnecessary exhaust from stationary motor vehicles. Black cabs account for around a quarter of PM10 emissions in central London, with up to 15 percent of that estimated to be as a result of taxi drivers leaving their engines idling when stationary. A team of five “eco-marshals” will monitor taxi stands at busy central London mainline stations and other on-street stands where air quality is particularly poor, and will serve as ambassadors for eco-driving courses designed to reduce emissions and save cabbies money via more efficient driving techniques.

The eco-marshals will be current TfL staff members, assigned on temporary duty, two of whom also are licensed London taxi drivers. They will conduct research that will be used to inform future activity, identify where to focus efforts, and develop better methodology to help taxi and private hire drivers change driving habits. Their research also will consider whether to change taxi rank layout and design.

TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, has also written to coach, bus and freight operators to encourage their drivers to switch off their engines while stationary.

3. A greening program throughout London will “trap” pollution and beautify the city.Studies across Europe and the U.S. have shown the potential of vegetation, including trees and plants, to trap PM10. A row of 50 six-foot-tall planters has been installed along Lower Thames Street, one of central London’s most polluted roads. The planters will contain summer bedding plants, to help trap particulate matter, and will be replaced with ivy in the winter. These stand-alone planted towers are being used to test the benefits of green screens (vegetated barriers), which are considered a feasible option for the roadside, where footways are wider, as they will not provide barriers to pedestrian movement or impede visibility.

Other green infrastructure, including green walls and trees, will be placed at potential PM10 pollution hot spots across London. The Air Pollution Research in London Group (APRIL) is helping to evaluate the air quality, and wider environmental and climatic benefits of the green infrastructure measures

Air quality modeling shows that the vast majority of London already meets the EU limit value for annual average PM10, but there are some local hot spots identified as being “at risk” of exceeding limits. The EU recently confirmed to the U.K. government that the mayor’s plans to reduce PM10 pollution by a third by 2015—including the work of the Clean Air Fund —have lifted the looming threat of hefty fines.

Kulveer Ranger, the mayor’s environment director, commented: “Pollution is a serious health issue and the Mayor is determined to reduce its impact. A comprehensive package of clean-up measures, including innovative technology, is now being targeted where most needed in central London. In addition, action is being taken to deliver a permanent legacy of cleaner air right across the Capital. ”

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News – Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Public Consultation on the Restriction of Sale of Energy-inefficient Incandescent Light Bulbs

Consultation document : consultation_paper_eng
Response Form PDF : response_form_eng
This paper informs Members that the Administration launched a
three-month public consultation on the restriction of sale of
energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs (ILB) on 12 August 2011.

PURPOSE  This paper informs Members that the Administration launched a three-month public consultation on the restriction of sale of energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs (ILB) on 12 August 2011.

Download PDF :

Download $6,000 FREE

Download “Scheme $6,000” Registration Form” PDF : bank-form_e

Download “Scheme $6,000” Registration Form” PDF (Cheque) : cheque-form_e

Sharp decline in quality of sea water

South China Morning Post – 22 Aug 2011

Watchdog says weather is largely to blame, but a sceptical green activist points to untreated sewage still being pumped into the harbour

Hot weather, heavy rainfall, pollution from the Pearl River and other unknown causes have been blamed for one of the worst declines in the quality of marine water last year.

A report by the Environmental Protection Department says quality deteriorated in several districts, including central Victoria Harbour, Tolo Harbour, Southern and Deep Bay, which all fell short of the overall water quality objectives.

Eastern waters – including the planned route of the first cross-harbour swim in 30 years – all met the standards. The event, once held between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central, will be staged between North Point and Lei Yue Mun in October.

The environmental watchdog declined to comment on whether water quality had improved so far this year, saying only that it was comparable to last year’s.

The annual marine water quality report issued by the department last week says the city’s overall water quality objectives compliance rate hit the lowest level – 80 per cent – since 2001. This means that up to 20 per cent of the time the waters failed at least one of the water quality standards such as E coli bacteria, dissolved oxygen – which is vital to marine organisms – and total inorganic nitrogen or nutrients in the water.

Water samples are collected at a network of 76 water monitoring stations once a month.

The Deep Bay waters continued to have the lowest compliance rate at 40 per cent, while eastern waters in Tseung Kwan O met the objectives all year round. Tolo Harbour registered the worst deterioration, falling from 71 per cent in 2009 to 50 per cent, due to “zero” dissolved oxygen compliance at all monitoring stations there.

Environment officials described it as a “rare phenomenon” that had only happened once in the past 15 years. They believed it was caused by heavy rainfall rather than a rise in pollution discharged into the harbour.

The compliance in central Victoria Harbour also dropped significantly from 93 per cent in 2009 to 77 per cent last year, again due to poor dissolved oxygen readings. Most of the shortfalls took place during hot and wet months.

The department said high temperatures could slow the rate at which oxygen dissolved in water, and heavy rain could prevent mixing of the top and bottom layers of water columns to improve oxygen levels.

While water quality sometimes hinges on the weather, the report blamed excessive nutrient levels for poorer water quality in southern waters and Deep Bay. It says this might have been caused by pollution from the Pearl River after heavy rain.

Dr Man Chi-sum, chief executive of Green Power and a government environment adviser, said the department should not blame weather and external factors for the deterioration of water quality. “Some of our sewage is still pumped untreated into the waters, while the wastewater collected at the sewage treatment works is not being treated to the most desirable standard,” he said.

The Environmental Protection Department plans to collect the remaining raw sewage, mostly from Hong Kong Island, for the city’s largest sewage treatment works in Stonecutters Island by 2014.

New bloc shifts power in Legco

South China Morning Post – 22 Aug. 2011

Launch of pro-business alliance to combat ‘populist’ sentiments will change the political landscape by creating three major alliances in the legislature

Hong Kong’s already fragmented legislature faces a power shift, with 12 lawmakers announcing yesterday they had formed a pro-business alliance to counter what they call rising radical and populist sentiments in society.

The bloc, which has yet to be formally named, will have more lawmakers than the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and progress of Hong Kong, which has 10. It consists of:

  • three Liberal Party lawmakers: Miriam Lau Kin-yee, Vincent Fang Kang and Tommy Cheung Yu-yan;
  • four from Economic Synergy: Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, Lau Wong-fat and Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen;
  • four from Professional Forum: Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, Abraham Razack, Professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing and Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun;
  • and independent lawmaker Philip Wong Yu-hong.

Lam will act as convenor, with Miriam Lau and Ho as deputies.

Lam said: “We believe most Hong Kong people want a stable society rather than growing populism and radical movements that make society more divided.”

He cited the by-elections triggered by the resignation of five pan-democratic lawmakers in March last year as one motivating factor behind the new group.

Lam said the alliance would not bind its members when they cast votes in the legislature, and the existing political groupings represented by respective members would not combine in the near future.

The Legislative Council now has three major factions: the pan-democrats with 23 votes; the pro-establishment camp – which includes the DAB and the Federation of Trade Unions – with 14 votes; and the new pro-business alliance with 12 votes. <ie 14 + 12 is better than 23>

Lam said the alliance came together because the members found common ground on social and economic issues. They began discussions on forming a coalition several months ago as they saw society had become more divided and the political atmosphere more radical.

Andrew Leung said members would not rule out the possibility of developing further as an organised political party in future. Miriam Lau, who is chairwoman of the Liberal Party, said: “We were seen as divided groups in the past and therefore our bargaining power was weak.”

She would vote according to her party in the event of a voting preference that conflicted with the alliance.

“My loyalty rests with the Liberal Party.” But she said the alliance would give the party a platform to take a united stance on policies and to strengthen its bargaining power in negotiations with the government.

The power reshuffle comes after three former Liberal Party lawmakers – Lam, Sophie Leung and Andrew Leung – walked out three years ago amid an intense leadership power struggle. They then set up the pro-business group Economic Synergy.

The political restructuring also comes ahead of the District Council elections in November, in which Lam said the alliance would field “no less than 50 candidates”.

He also said it would co-operate in the elections for the Election Committee that selects the chief executive in January and for Legco in September next year.

“When someone declares their candidacy for the chief executive election, we will give our voice as well,” Lam said.

James Sung Lap-kung, a City University political scientist, said it would now be easier for the government to canvass support from pro-establishment camp as it only needed to negotiate with a few groups.

He said the new alliance had a hidden agenda. “It shows they have stepped up efforts to keep the functional constituencies in the Legco election in 2020.”

The government has yet to say if it will scrap functional constituencies to ensure all lawmakers are elected by universal suffrage by 2020.

We can help, say dolphin defenders

Hong Kong Standard

A conservation group wants the Airport Authority to take more notice of green groups that may help minimize the environmental impact of a third runway.

Samson Lee

Monday, August 22, 2011

A conservation group wants the Airport Authority to take more notice of green groups that may help minimize the environmental impact of a third runway.

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung Ka-yiu said a balance may be struck between infrastructure development and environmental protection.

“It is about give and take,” Hung said. “If we take something from the environment, we need to give something back to the environment.”

However, consultancy reports released on August 8 by the authority still do not address concerns over the environmental threat, particularly to Chinese white dolphins

Hung said the studies provide information about the impact on air quality, but fail to tell the public how the dolphins will be affected and what mitigation measures the authority will take to protect the endangered creatures.

Calling on the authority to reveal the full environmental impact, he said “if there are serious problems, we can discuss together to find a solution.”

Hung hopes there will be more positive developments and talks with the authority before the end of consultation next month.

“Some people think we are radical and make some unreasonable requests. Actually, we are rational and for the good of Hong Kong.”

He said green groups tend to be placed in a position against the authority because it always mentions economic benefits instead of environmental costs.

“We are forced to oppose them because they do not consider the environmental impact seriously.”

Hung said there are about 200 Chinese white dolphins using Hong Kong waters and they are facing threats such as overfishing, water pollution and high-speed ferries.

He said the proposed reclamation area for the third runway is at the center of three core locations frequented by the dolphins – Lung Kwu Chau, the Brothers Islands and Tai O to Fan Lau waters.