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November 23rd, 2013:

SCMP: Plover Cove country park expansion could lead to showdown

from Cheung Chi-fai of the SCMP:

Officials have quietly drafted proposals to expand at least one country park that would limit the building rights of villagers.

The proposal for incorporating five enclaves into the Plover Cove Country Park in the northeastern New Territories would add 60 hectares to the 4,600- hectare park.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department plan comes just a few weeks after development minister Paul Chan Mo-po provoked a heated debate by suggesting houses might be built in the parks. The new proposal is likely to prove just as controversial.

AFCD officials say the five areas, either surrounded by or jutting into the park, are suitable for incorporation in full or in part. This would presuppose that development in the parks was not favoured. Any construction, including small houses for indigenous inhabitants, would require approval from the Country and Marine Parks Board.


Standard: Return stays at 9.9pc for power firms

from Kelly Ip for the Standard:

Power suppliers CLP and Hongkong Electric will continue to enjoy the 9.99 percent permitted return on capital investment.

The decision – following a just- completed mid-term review of the Scheme of Control Agreements between the government and power companies – was expected, said an Energy Advisory Committee member.

During the review, the two firms agreed to set up an energy efficiency fund from shareholders’ earnings to provide subsidies on a matching basis to owners of non- commercial buildings so they can make their structures more energy efficient.

The scheme is expected to be launched in the first half of next year.

According to previous records, the two companies are expected to invest HK$100 million into the fund, with HK$70 million coming from CLP and spread over four years.

CLP and Hongkong Electric also agreed to raise performance thresholds for both incentive payments and penalties with regard to supply reliability, operational efficiency and customer services.

They also reached a consensus on lowering the cap on the Tariff Stabilisation Fund balance, from 8 percent to 5 percent of annual total revenues from sales of electricity to local consumers, to ensure the balance of the fund can be used to alleviate the impact of tariff increases on customers.

To promote transparency, both firms will set up dedicated websites to show information relating to financial and operating data. The current Scheme of Control Agreements run for a term of 10 years and will expire in 2018.

Energy Advisory Committee member William Yu Yuen-ping said the energy efficiency fund is a breakthrough to help buildings save power.

“Since the fund is from shareholders’ earnings, it will not be included in operational costs and should not affect tariffs,” he said.

An Environment Bureau spokesman said electricity consumers can expect some benefits from the modifications.

Conservation group World Green Organization predicted CLP will increase electricity charges by 4 to 5 percent and Hongkong Electric by up to 1 percent.

22 Nov 2013