CE lays out his vision for a greener and more vibrant Hong Kong

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, has today (October 14) in his annual Policy Address outlined plans to re-energise Central.

     He also pledged to promote a high quality living environment by revitalising old buildings, enhancing the harbourside environment and improving air quality.

     "Only by providing a diverse and dynamic cultural life and a quality living environment can we attract talent from around the world to build a career in Hong Kong," Mr Tsang said.

     The Chief Executive unveiled a package of initiatives to enhance the living environment under his election platform concept of "Progressive Development".

     "The new harbourfront in Central and the historic buildings in the district provide valuable opportunities for conserving Central," he said.

     Mr Tsang proposed a series of revitalisation projects that would add a new dimension to Central.

* The Central Ferry Piers site: Development density to be reduced and public space will be opened up along the waterfront for entertainment, recreational and cultural uses;

* Revitalising the Central Market: The Central Market will be removed from the Application List and handed over to the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) for conservation and revitalisation. "This will improve the air quality in the district and provide an additional leisure place rarely found in this busy area," Mr Tsang said.

* The original site of the Central School: With a view to establishing the site as a creative and cultural landmark, the Government will in the next few months invite interested parties to submit proposals for operating creative industries;

* Central Police Station Compound: Taking into account views of the public, the Government in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club will soon announce and implement the revised revitalisation proposal;

* Central Government Offices: The Main and East Wings, which are of architectural interest will be preserved for use by the Department of Justice in future. The West Wing is recommended for demolition and redevelopment for commercial use.

* Murray Building: Taking into account its special style and premium location, Murray Building is recommended to be converted into a hotel through open tender.

* Court of Final Appeal: After the Court of Final Appeal will be relocated to the existing Legislative Council Building. The Government is open to suggestions on the future use of the French Mission Building, which is a declared monument.

     "To make the best use of the precious assets of Central, we must create attractions in the district for public enjoyment," Mr Tsang said.

     "Therefore, while conserving Central, we should enhance visitor flow and generate new commercial vibrancy."

     At the same time, the Government will take forward proposals submitted by the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee in August which set out 22 options for beautification work on both sides of the harbour.

     Mr Tsang also said the Government would work towards its goal of improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

     He said, "The Government has already committed to reducing the energy intensity of Hong Kong by at least 25% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels."

     To help achieve this goal, Mr Tsang said the Government would continue to focus on promoting the use of cleaner fuel and improved energy efficiency.

     He said a bill would be introduced into the Legislative Council by the end of this year to enforce mandatory compliance with Building Energy Codes to encourage greater energy efficiency of buildings.

     He also said progress was being made on ensuring the provision of cleaner fuel from the Mainland to Hong Kong including starting work on the construction a pipeline supplying natural gas to the city and the recently renewed agreement on the supply of nuclear electricity for a further term of 20 years.

     Mr Tsang said the Government would also work with the two local power companies to launch an electric vehicle leasing scheme by the end of 2010.

     He added that the Environment Bureau had been working with a number of vehicle manufacturers on specific measures to promote the use of electric vehicles.

     "Upon implementation of these two programmes, Hong Kong will rank second in Asia, after Japan, where electric vehicles are most widely used," Mr Tsang said.

     The Chief Executive predicted that around 200 electric vehicles would be supplied to the local market in the coming financial year.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:43