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September 19th, 2012:

‘Incinerators are junk and they kill’ – air pollution expert claims

Incinerators kill says toxicologist. Emissions from waste incinerators are to blame for child deaths, birth defects, increased cancer rates and heart attacks, according to an air pollution expert who spoke at Hardwicke Village Hall on Wednesday, September 5. Stroud News and Journal, United Kingdom. 19 September 2012.

11:54am Wednesday 19th September 2012 in News By Chris Warne, SNJ reporter for Stonehouse and Chalford. Twitter @ChrisWarneSNJ

EMISSIONS from waste incinerators are to blame for child deaths, birth defects, increased cancer rates and heart attacks, according to an air pollution expert who spoke at Hardwicke Village Hall on Wednesday, September 5.

Retired GP Dr Dick van Steenis, who has spent 17 years working in toxicology, urged residents to ‘rise up’ and oppose plans for a £500 million incinerator at Javelin Park, near Haresfield.

He said lax regulations in the UK meant populations living downwind of the facilities were being exposed to hazardous levels of PM1 and PM2.5 particles, which he claims are responsible for causing premature infant deaths as well as a host of other illnesses and diseases.

Dr van Steenis, who in the past has given evidence to a House of Commons select committee on air quality, said incinerator operators are putting ‘company profits before public health’ because they are burning waste at temperatures which are too low to fully break down refuse.

Alternative waste disposal technologies, like plasma arc gasification, treat waste at higher temperatures and are cheaper and cleaner, Dr van Steenis said.

“It is now up to the people to rise up and say enough is enough. We do not want any extra deaths. These incinerators are junk and they kill,” he said.

Dr van Steenis was invited to talk by parish councillors from Hardwicke and Quedgeley who are opposed to the incinerator.

Ian Butler, chairman of Hardwicke Parish Council, said he felt it was important that residents were given the opportunity to hear an alternative viewpoint on the issue.

The Health Protection Agency announced in January that it had commissioned a major new study to look at the potential threat incinerators posed to public health.

Preliminary results from that study are not due back until 2014 however – a year after building work is scheduled to start on the Javelin Park incinerator.

Cllr Stan Waddington, GCC cabinet champion for waste, said: “The Health Protection Agency’s position on energy from waste facilities is clear.

“Well run and regulated modern municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health. Energy from waste is a tried and tested technology and there are currently more than 350 operating throughout Europe.”

Javier Peiro, project director for Urbaser Balfour Beatty – the company hoping to build the plant – said: “We were disappointed that no representative was invited from UBB to provide a balanced discussion of the topics at the recent meeting.

“Dr van Steenis has raised his concerns at a number of public inquiries in the country where his evidence on health effects and alternative technologies has been considered but not accepted.

“All thermal treatment facilities, including energy from waste and gasification plants preferred by van Steenis, must comply with the same stringent emissions limits.

“Had we have been invited to Dr van Steenis’ presentation we would have been able to provide the alternative perspective on energy from waste, which is based on credible evidence rather than scaremongering.”

HK’s 3rd runway proposal to go the way of Heathrow’s?

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


Mike Kilburn, Civic Exchange (now Senior Manager Environmen, HK Airport Authority)

On Monday 23 April 2012 the Environmental Affairs Panel of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) passed a motion requiring the Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) to conduct a social return on investment (SROI) study, a carbon audit and a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in addition to the statutory environmental impact assessment (EIA) which they must conduct in order to secure approval to build a proposed third runway at Hong Kong International Airport.

This decision is significant because plans to add a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport were shelved largely because a SROI study showed that the impacts on residents living near the airport outweighed the economic benefits highlighted in the original proposals. HKAA officials, who are all too aware of the outcome in London, have consistently declined to conduct an SROI despite repeated calls to do so.

It is also significant because the Legislative Council had previously expressed support for the third runway during a meeting of the Panel on Economic Development in June 2011In March 2012 the Executive Council gave its approval in principle, subject to the statutory requirements of the EIA process, for the third runway to go ahead.

So why did a legislature which has been broadly supportive of the third runway – and highly receptive to the proposed HK$136 billion (USD17.4 billion) in contracts and notional HK$900 billion (USD115.4 billion) stimulus to the Hong Kong economy – decide that it needed more information that might derail the project?

The short answer is that they were persuaded to do so by Hong Kong’s environmental NGOs (envNGOs).  During the summer of 2011 the HKAA conducted a consultation exercise to seek the public’s views on whether it should restrict its development plans to optimizing the current two runway system, or substantially expand its capacity by adding a third runway. In December 2011 it released the findings of a survey showing that over 70 percent of the 24,000 respondents supported the third runway.

The envNGOs have not rejected the third runway, but they have expressed considerable concern over the loss of habitat for the globally-threatened Chinese White Dolphin and the negative impacts on air quality and noise disturbance to residents living close to the airport and the flight path. They also stressed that the HKAA’s presentation of the 2030 Masterplan had focused on the economic benefits and underplayed the social and environmental concerns.

In February 2012 WWF (HK) and Greenpeace released their own public opinion survey, also prepared by Hong Kong University. The envNGO survey showed that about 73 percent of the public was dissatisfied with amount of information HKAA had provided on the social and environmental impacts of the project. Choosing the same pollsters was an astute move since HKAA cannot challenge the envNGO’s survey without undermining the credibility of their own.

Prior to the motion, which was raised by legislator Kam Nai Wai, an envNGO coalition – WWF (HK), Greenpeace, Clean Air Network, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, Friends of the Earth, Green Sense, Conservancy Association and Greeners Action – submitted a written paper and made verbal submissions which were unified in calling for the SROI, carbon audit and SEA.

When questioned by legislators, both HKAA’s Chief Executive Stanley Hui and Transport and Housing Bureau’s Sharon Yip expressed their intention to follow the statutory process – in other words to do nothing beyond the statutory EIA.

And herein lies the problem. Since its establishment in 1997 Hong Kong’s EIA process has been widely recognized as one of the best in the world for assessing the environmental impact of individual projects. Elsewhere, however, impact assessment has expanded to encompass a broader range of considerations, including social and health impacts and the cumulative impacts of multiple projects. Hong Kong has correspondingly fallen behind global best practice.

To make matters worse the Hong Kong public is increasingly concerned about declining environmental quality. There is also growing doubt that the Government’s development plans are truly sustainable.

Most specifically given the persistently high health impacts of air pollution and the long delay in introducing new air quality objectives (they remain unchanged since 1987), the public’s confidence that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is an effective, or even committed, regulator of environmental standards is at an all-time low.

The most visible expression of this concern was the judicial review raised by a Tung Chung resident against the EPD’s approval of the EIA for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in 2010.

This combination of rising public expectations for transparency and quality of life, declining environmental quality and growing distrust of regulators greatly increases the pressure on HKAA and the THB, whose “statutory compliance” response looks as out of touch as the EIA process they would like to rely upon.

That legislators of all parties, including Miriam Lau, who is also a board member of the HKAA, voted unanimously to support the motion requiring the additional studies to be conducted suggests that the envNGOs have got this one right and it is HKAA, THB and the EIA process which must move with the times.

Related Content

Could air pollution block Hong Kong’s third runway?

HK Airport’s green ambitions mask poor government planning

Official report shows Hong Kong’s worsening air quality its own fault

Professional needed as top environmental regulator


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Idling engine law proving ineffective


Letters to the Editor, September 19, 2012

Submitted by admin on Sep 19th 2012, 12:00am


Idling engine law proving ineffective

Hong Kong’s idling engine legislation is perplexing as it is copied (according to an Environmental Protection Department official I spoke to) from the traffic and boat idling ordinance of Toronto, Canada.

It is bewildering because, in 2011, Toronto was officially ranked No 1 city in the world in quality of living and clean air, and Hong Kong was voted one of the most polluted.

It is inexplicable that Hong Kong copies an environmental programme from a city that bears no resemblance to the problems the SAR suffers from.

Interestingly, the three minutes of permitted idling per 60 minutes was reduced in Toronto to just one minute and enforced regardless of the weather.

Hong Kong continues with its three minutes per hour and should the hot weather signal be in effect, then idling for as long as you like is perfectly legal.

So on days when pollutants should be reduced, our Environmental Protection Department allows empty coaches to idle and trucks to bellow noxious fumes into the air so a driver can sleep in his airconditioned cabin.

It is a travesty of a law designed to appease the very people guilty of polluting our air; our government continues to treat the health of Hong Kong citizens as unimportant and this is simply not good enough.

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Roadside pollution is getting worse

I refer to the letter by Edward Rossiter (“Government failing to curb pollution”, September 11).

Air pollution is getting worse and it poses a serious threat to our health.

Current government policies have been shown to be inadequate and ineffective. I am concerned that there has been an increase in the number of private cars but nothing has been done to curb deteriorating roadside pollution.

For those working in Kwun Tong, walking along the pavement for just 10 minutes is absolute torture as the traffic flow is heavy, especially in the rush hour.

Conditions are made worse by urban renewal projects. There are construction sites in operation day and night with dumper trucks coming in and out; the health of Kwun Tong residents is in jeopardy.

The air pollution index does not come up to international standards.

Why is a world city still using an outdated index, especially when it is supposed to be an important yardstick and is relevant to the health of Hong Kong citizens?

We have to face the fact that pollution is really getting out of control. It is high time the government considered curbing roadside pollution. Yet, the effectiveness of banning idling engines is in doubt.

It is not uncommon to find minibuses or taxis still with their engines running while they are waiting for passengers.

For the sake of the health of Kwun Tong residents, the government should do more to tackle the pollution they face at pavement level, like putting more resources into roadside greening and subsiding minibuses to use environmentally friendly engines.

Leung Kit-yan, Diamond Hill


Idling engine legislation

roadside pollution

Source URL (retrieved on Sep 19th 2012, 6:29am):

Green groups to boycott third runway meeting


Submitted by admin on Sep 19th 2012, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Twelve green groups will boycott a meeting with the Airport Authority today which was to discuss the social and environmental impact of the third runway project.

The green groups have pulled out over what they say is a lack of commitment by the authority to carry out a social-return-on-investment study. A meeting planned at the end of last month was postponed over concern that there was “a divergence of opinion” between the two sides over the study.

While the green groups are pushing for a social-return study and a carbon emission study, the authority, which was initially opposed to conducting a social-return study, has said it has looked at “other evaluation approaches that have been adopted internationally”, which it says “may address the nature of your concerns about social and environmental impact”.

Evidently, this does not go far enough for the green groups. A letter from them to the authority recently noted: ” … we will not meet with the AAHK again in the 19/9 roundtable meeting if we do not receive a commitment from AAHK regarding our requests stated clearly in our joint letter.” Their withdrawal from the meeting is a blow to the authority, which is keen to keep them onside. Earlier this year it committed to becoming the “greenest airport in the world”, but this may be difficult to achieve without support from the green groups.

Source URL (retrieved on Sep 19th 2012, 6:02am):

Mike Kilburn

Mike Kilburn

Senior Manager, Environment at Airport Authority of Hong Kong


Hong Kong



  1. Air Port Authority of Hong Kong
  1. Civic Exchange
  2. Hong Kong Countryside Foundation
  1. Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden
  2. Hill and Knowlton Asia Ltd
  1. Jt Hons, Chinese and Management at University of Durham


Senior Manager, Environment

Air Port Authority of Hong Kong

2012– Present (less than a year)Hong Kong International Airport

Head of Environmental Strategy

Civic Exchange

Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Think Tanks industry

June 2008– Present (4 years 4 months)Hong Kong

Developing, resourcing, managing and communicating multi-stakeholder research and engagement campaigns on environmental and governance issues to help policymakers to plan & execute environmental policy in the public interest.

Founding Board Member (pro bono)

Hong Kong Countryside Foundation

February 2011– Present (1 year 8 months)Hong Kong

Key adviser on governance structure, implementation strategies and advocacy.

Founding board member with:

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive-elect: CY Leung,
former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong: Sir David Akers-Jones
former Director of Planning: Patrick Lau
former Director of Hong Kong Observatory: CY Lam
Chairman of Jebsen: Hans-Michael Jebsen
Ruy Barretto SC

Vice Chairman (pro bono)

Hong Kong Bird Watching Society

1994– Present (18 years)Hong Kong

Board-level oversight of affairs of HKBWS. Leading advocacy, stakeholder engagement determining social licence to operate for Government and major housing and infrastructure developers and utilities.

Successful campaigns include:

1. Transforming illegal landfill incursion into country park into 40 ha increase in park area.
2. Convening 12 HK-based NGOs in first successful EIA challenge in Hong Kong, forcing railway to avoid a wetland at an extra cost of HK$ 2 billion.
3. Refining development footprints to avoid flight lines & minimize ecological impacts.
4. Stopping use of perverse incentives to legitimize development of ecological hotspot

Public Policy Analyst

Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden

2002– 2008 (6 years)Hong Kong

Advocating sustainable development and nature conservation via policy research and stakeholder engagement. Leading public consultations on sustainability, environmental legislation and development projects.

Account Executive

Hill and Knowlton Asia Ltd

1993– 1995 (2 years)


Authors: Mike Kilburn

Air pollution remains the most serious and persistent threat to public health in Hong Kong. This paper sets out seven principles for more effective control of air pollution. It also proposes seven measures that can swiftly and significantly reduce those emissions that threaten us most – roadside emissions. This paper proposes a framework and measures that could be adopted by an incoming…more

Authors: Mike Kilburn

This paper reviews how the Tsang administration has tackled air pollution in Hong Kong since he took office in March 2005, to determine where progress has been made, and where it has not. Some of the difficulties to achieving substantial improvement come from long-entrenched systemic “disconnects” in the way that air pollution is addressed, but new and fundamental problems have also emerged.

Authors: Mike Kilburn, Dr Roger Kendrick

This report sets out a new strategic framework for nature conservation based on the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which Hong Kong became a party in May 2011.

Authors: Mike Kilburn, Cheng Nok Ming

This report assess the performance of Hong Kong against its responsibilities under the Convention on Biological Diversity according to a set of indicators developed in collaboration with environmental NGOs, consultants, academics, current and former Government officials.

Skills & Expertise

  1. Research
  2. Environmental governance
  3. Public policy
  4. Strategic Analysis
  5. Multi-stakeholder Engagement
  6. Marketing Communications


University of Durham

Jt Hons, Chinese and Management

1989 – 1993

Sherborne School, Dorset UK

1984 – 1989

Additional Information


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