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August 25th, 2011:

Judge queries need for stand-alone tests in EIA

China Daily – 25 August 2011

The lawyer representing a woman whose petition to the courts resulted in a setback of several months on the planned construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge argued on Wednesday that the purpose of conducting environmental impact assessments (EIA) is to reduce the potential adverse impacts in projects under consideration.

Lawyer Philip Dykes, addressing a hearing before the Court of Appeal, was defending the need for separate analyses of air quality surrounding the bridge project – both in the absence of the bridge and after the bridge is built.

Justice Michael John Hartmann, after hearing Dyke’s argument, expressed doubt on his point that every project requires a stand-alone assessment.

Dykes spoke during the second day of a judicial review requested by Director of Environmental Protection Anissa Wong Sean-yee.

The Court of First Instance in an April judgment quashed Wong’s decision to approve the EIA report, on grounds that the air quality assessments of the project were incomplete.

Dykes is the senior counsel representing 65-year-old Chu Yee-wah, a Tung Chung resident who had petitioned the courts arguing the cross-border bridge project may harm her health.

Dykes’s remarks followed an argument by the lawyer for the Environmental Protection Department.

On Tuesday, Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi, representing the environmental protection director,contended that a stand-alone analysis apart from the report was not necessary for every proposed project.

He said that the major source of pollution resulting from construction of the intercity bridge will be vehicle emissions, which may be reduced through supporting legislation, such as to exert restrictions on the number of cars that may use the bridge. Yu also argued that the extra analysis would make little sense because there were too many variables for any accurate appraisal.

The court will continue to hear the case on Thursday.

China Daily

Bridge case leads to more questions

Colleen Lee

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Court of Appeal judges questioned whether it is essential and important to produce a standalone analysis of projected environmental conditions without the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

It was the second day of the government’s appeal against a court ruling that quashed the environmental permit for two key elements of the proposed bridge, halting construction.

In April, the Court of First Instance ruled in favor of Tung Chung resident Chu Yee- wah, 65, who filed a judicial review saying the air quality impact assessments of the projects were not done properly.

The projects are boundary-crossing facilities to be built on reclaimed land northeast of Chek Lap Kok and a nearby link road.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Justice Michael Hartmann asked if an infrastructure project was planned for a polluting industrial site, and whether one needs to know what “actual impact” of that project would bring to the environment.

He wondered if it would be enough to find the cumulative emissions of the whole site, assuming the project took shape.

Justice Hartmann went on to ask if it is “idealistic” or “practical and essential” to carry out a standalone analysis.

Philip Dykes, representing Chu, said in the bridge case policymakers have to identify the difference in the projected emission levels, with and without the projects in place, to decide if the worsening pollution is acceptable.

As such, Dykes said, authorities can make an informed decision.

Court of Appeal vice president Justice Robert Tang Ching asked if a standalone analysis “may be less important” if ambient conditions of pollution must be minimized.

Dykes said a project proponent must mitigate emissions.

Justice Tang also asked if the director of environmental protection has discretion to refuse to grant an environmental permit, even though the impact assessment reports submitted comply with a government technical memorandum and the project’s study brief.