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LCQ11: Smoky Vehicle Control Programme

     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for the Environment, Dr Kitty Poon, at the Legislative Council meeting today (June 1):


     Regarding the Smoky Vehicle Control Programme, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that despite the authorities' previous efforts to ameliorate the problem of smoky vehicles, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has projected that 9 000 smoky vehicle cases will be handled this year, which is similar to those in the past two years, of the reasons for the number of smoky vehicles to be handled not being reduced;

(b) as EPD has projected that out of the 9 000 smoky vehicles cases to be handled this year, the authorities will test the vehicles in 7 900 cases only, why the vehicles in the remaining 1 100 cases are not required to be tested;

(c) among the smoky vehicles which had undergone smoke tests in the past three years, of the number of those which underwent the tests within the prescribed period of 14 working days; the number of those which did not undergo the tests within 14 working days, as well as the average number of working days and the maximum number of working days within which these vehicles underwent the tests;

(d) among the smoky vehicles which had undergone the tests in the past three years, of the number of those with emissions exceeding the prescribed limits, as well as the exceedances involved;

(e) whether it had studied in the past three years how far the emission levels of smoky vehicles which did not undergo the tests or repairs and improvement would exceed those of the vehicles in general when those smoky vehicles continued to travel on roads;

(f) whether it will tighten the time limit for smoky vehicles to undergo the tests so as to ensure that vehicles travelling on roads will not pollute the air; and

(g) what measures it has to further ameliorate the problem of smoky vehicles?



(a) and (b) Since 1999, the Government has strengthened the control of smoky vehicles, including the introduction of an advanced smoke test, the increase of the fixed penalty fine for smoky vehicle to $1,000 and the training of more accredited spotters.  As a result, the number of Emission Test Notices (ETN) issued dropped significantly by over 80% to about 6,500 in 2010 from its peak at about 39 000 in 2000.  As for this year, we estimate that there would be about 9 000 smoky vehicle reports from accredited spotters, which is approximately the same as those in the past two years.  However, based on past experience, we expect that some of the reports could not be followed up for the following reasons :

(i) duplicate reporting (i.e. a smoky vehicle has been reported smoky by more than one accredited smoky vehicle spotter); or

(ii) insufficient information in the report (such as failing to provide the type of the vehicle); or

(iii) vehicle particulars in the report being inconsistent with those in the vehicle registration records of the Transport Department (TD) such that the alleged smoky vehicle could not be identified.

As such, we estimate that 6 500 ETNs would be issued in this year requiring the owner to conduct smoke tests in vehicle emission testing centres (VETCs) within a prescribed period of time.  In addition, some smoky vehicles would undertake the smoke test more than once before they are thoroughly repaired and pass the test.  Based on past data, we estimate that about 7 900 tests would be conducted in connection with the ETN.  

(c) Starting April 2008, we have required the owners of smoky vehicles to fix the smoke problem and pass the smoke test in a VETC within 12 working days, which is shorter than the previous requirement of "14 working days" by two days.  Vehicles failing to comply with the requirement would have their vehicle licences cancelled unless they have reasonable grounds and have been approved by us.  Past data showed that most of the spotted smoky vehicles complied with the requirements. The data is at Annex .

(d) In the past 3 years, there were on average about 210 vehicles per year failing the smoke test. These smoky vehicles on average exceeded the smoke limit, i.e. 50 Hartridge Smoke Unit (HSU), by about 50%. The EPD recommended the Commissioner for Transport to cancel their vehicle licences.

(e) Generally speaking, smoky vehicles would emit about twice the suspended particulates of normal vehicles. To prevent smoky vehicles that did not undergo the test and undertake repair from travelling on our roads and polluting the air, we would recommend the Commissioner for Transport to cancel their licences.  

(f) In April 2008, we shortened the prescribed period for a smoky vehicle to pass the smoke test in a VETC from 14 working days to 12 working days.  We will consider the need to further shorten the period based on the actual situation; and

(g) In addition to the measures mentioned in parts (a) and (b) above, to further ameliorate the problem of smoky vehicles, we organise seminars for the transport trades to promote better vehicle maintenance and eco-driving. The Vocational Training Council also offers training courses for vehicle mechanics on the maintenance of vehicle emission systems.

Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:33


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