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August 24th, 2011:

Traffic, not bridge, ’cause of pollution’

South China Morning Post – 24 August 2011

Government’s lawyer in HK-Zhuhai-Macau link appeal case argues that EIA law is just one legislative tool available to protect environment

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance is neither toothless nor the only legislative tool available to protect Hong Kong’s environment, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Benjamin Yu, for the Environmental Protection Department, made this submission in the government’s appeal against a court ruling that quashed the environmental permit for the proposed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The ruling – handed down in April by Mr Justice Joseph Fok in a judicial review filed by Tung Chung resident Chu Yee-wah – was based on the ground that the bridge’s impact assessment report did not a present a standalone analysis of projected environmental conditions without the bridge.

Without the analysis, it would be difficult to measure the impact of such factors as air pollution, and impose appropriate mitigation measures, the ruling said.

But Yu said the traffic on the bridge, rather than the bridge itself, would be the source of pollution and this could be dealt with by other laws.

“During the bridge’s operational phase, pollution is not caused by the bridge but the vehicles using it, which are subject to a different set of control regimes on the engine or the vehicle fuels,” he told Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling and Justice Michael  Hartmann.

Yu made the point to support his claim that Hong Kong had two different environmental protection  approaches.

One, the environmental impact assessment system, focused on the maximum allowable cumulative pollution impact on the environment. The other approach focused on minimising the impact of individual activity.

Yu said Fok had seemed to fail to note that both approaches were part of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance – which specifies the maximum allowable air pollutant concentration and the best practical means to lower pollution for certain  activities.

“The Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance is … only one piece of legislation in the whole arm of environmental protection in Hong Kong,” he said.

Yu went on to suggest that the key issue was not whether the EIA law “lacks somehow armoury or ammunition” to protect the environment because the law mainly covered procedural matters.

As to how and what impact assessments, including the standalone analysis in question, should be done were set out in other documents like the technical memorandum and study brief issued by the Director of Environmental Protection.

Yu admitted that it was technically possible to carry out a separate assessment for the standalone analysis but that had never been required in the bridge impact study. There were also no guidelines or parameters for carrying out the analysis.

Yu will continue his submissions today.

Bus stop revamp to ease centre traffic

24 August 2011


From next Sunday traffic in downtown Macau could be easier, said the Transport Bureau, with 21 routes diverted from Avenida de D. João IV and Avenida do Infante D. Henrique

A total of 21 routes will be diverted from some of the busiest bus stops in downtown Macau from August 28 to ease traffic congestion, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) announced yesterday.
Avenida do Infante D. Henrique and Avenida de D. João IV will benefit most from the new measures, which also include an extension of routes MT1, MT2 and MT4 and the creation of a new bus stop near Regency hotel in Taipa.
“I’m sure it [the measures] will be able to cut down on the time it takes for buses to drop off and pick up passengers, as well as to ease traffic congestion,” said the head of DSAT’s Transport Management department, Dick Lo Seng Chi.
From next Sunday routes 3, 4, 6, 18, 18A and 9 will no longer stop at Avenida do Infante D. Henrique, in front of Macau Square. In addition buses 3 and 6 will also no longer stop at the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) headquarters.
Moreover, routes 23 and 32 will not go through Avenida do Infante D. Henrique and will instead move into Avenida Dr. Mário Soares before continuing to Macau Tower.
The stop at Avenida de D. João IV near the Portuguese School will be less busy as well, with buses 2, 5, 5X, 7 and 10 no longer stopping there.
Route 28 A will also dodge stops at Avenida de D. João IV and DSEJ headquarters and instead continue to the bus hub at Praça Ferreira do Amaral, in front of Lisboa casino.
Finally route 28 B will move straight along Avenida da Praia Grande with a new stop at China Plaza.
Another stop will be created in Estrada Almirante Marques Esparteiro, near Regency hotel, and buses 21A, 22, 24, 25X, 26A, 28A, 33, 50, MT1 and N3 will stop there after crossing Nobre de Carvalho bridge into Taipa.
Also “in response to resident requests” routes MT1, MT2 and MT4 will be extended from its existing terminal at Praça Ferreira do Amaral. While MT1 and MT2 will continue until Praçeta 24 de Junho next to MGM casino and MT4 will go all the way to Praça de Ponte e Horta, at Praia do Manduco.

Reolian improving

New bus operator Reolian is improving its services “much faster than what we had anticipated,” Lo Seng Chi said.
The company “has faced problems and failed to fulfil the bus frequency required,” he acknowledged. But Reolian “has been improving every day” since the new public bus service was launched on August 1, the official stressed.
Still, he added, the operator needs to strengthen the training and attitude of its drivers.
DSAT is especially concerned over reports of conflicts between drivers and passengers. “We have already spoken with Reolian about this issue,” Lo said.
The bureau is also worried about several mechanical breakdowns that affected the company’s vehicles.
“Reolian’s buses are new but they were imported from mainland China and perhaps they are not prepared for the characteristics of the Macau road network,” the official said.
He stressed that most malfunctions occurred going up steep streets. “They should have a technician from the [bus] manufacturer on call to improve the mechanics,” Lo said.
Up until Sunday there were over 120 mechanical breakdowns affecting the buses of all three operators but in most cases the service was not affected. In addition there were 88 accidents with only a few causing injuries.
DSAT has warned new bus operator Reolian that it must provide full services by September 1 or face penalties. Transmac and TCM are currently helping Reolian fulfil some of its busier routes.
“We will see what Reolian’s ability is to boost its services. We have yet to reach a decision on eventual sanctions,” Lo said.