Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ6: Regarding the judicial review of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

     Following is a question by the Hon Lam Tai-fai and a reply by the Acting Secretary for the Environment, Dr Kitty Poon, in the Legislative Council today (June 8):


     Some members of the public have complained to me that they are dissatisfied with the acts and practices of certain political parties and politicians as they have not instituted legal proceedings on their own, but have made use of an illiterate elderly recipient of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to apply for legal aid to initiate a judicial review, thus abusing judicial proceedings, attacking the construction project of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZMB), forcing the project to be halted and seriously undermining the interests of Hong Kong. This has not only procrastinated the progress of the works of the HKZMB Hong Kong section and pushed up the construction costs, but may also affect 78 other projects, thereby seriously hampering the economic development of Hong Kong, pushing up the unemployment rate and leading to immeasurable losses. There are also media reports that the Civic Party has admitted that it assisted a Tung Chung resident to apply for judicial review. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Government has received any complaint or view which alleged that the aforesaid case   involved "champerty", "maintenance" or other acts of abusing judicial proceedings; and whether the Government will initiate investigations to ascertain if anyone has manipulated the litigation behind the scene, perverted the course of justice and gained benefits in the process; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(b) given that at the Chief Executive's Question and Answer Session on May 19 this year, the Hon Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party claimed that this Council had been cautioning the Government that it was highly likely that the Government's approach of handling the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance would be regarded as breaching the law, while at the special meeting of the House Committee of this Council held on May 20 this year, the Chief Secretary for Administration said that after going through all the records, the Government had not found any record indicating that requests had been made for the Government to conduct the kind of baseline studies requested by the Court in its judgement, whether the Government will the take the initiative to find out from Mr Leong the specific contents of such views and when such views had been given; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The "Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance" (the EIA Ordinance) commenced its operation since 1998 with the objective of protecting the environment by assessing impact of designated projects on the environment. Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has all along been acting pursuant to the statutory requirements, guidelines and procedures in considering the assessments, reviewing rigorously EIA reports (reviewing report process also includes consultation with the public and the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE)), assessing effectively the environmental impact of designated projects, and imposing mitigation measures to be incorporated by the project proponents. On January 22, 2010, a citizen of Hong Kong made an application for judicial review regarding the air quality impact of the EIA in respect of Hong Kong section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project. On April 18, 2011, the Court of First Instance (CFI) handed down the Judgement which rejected six of the seven issues contended by the Applicant. But after considering the purpose of the EIA Ordinance, the CFI ruled that apart from assessing the cumulative environmental impact caused by the designated project, the EIA report should include a "stand alone" analysis of the project and put forward relevant mitigation measures, so as to allow the authority to consider whether the relevant impacts have been kept to the minimum. The Judgement gives rise to significant legal issues relating to the EIA Ordinance and to its implementation. After seeking legal advice and considering relevant factors thoroughly, the EPD lodged an appeal against the Judgement on May 13, 2011.

     In our written reply to the Legislative Council question of the Hon Abraham Shek on May 18, 2011, we pointed out that EPD had all along been following the contents of the "Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process" (TM) issued under the EIAO requiring "baseline study" to be carried out in air quality assessment. It should be noted that the baseline study is carried out on existing air quality. Whereas the CFI Judgement held that apart from ensuring the cumulative environmental impacts caused by designated projects would comply with the relevant standards and criteria, the EIA report should also compare the environmental impacts of the scenarios with and without the project in place. That is, to assess the air quality in the future assessment year without the project in place in order to assess the direct impact of the project and relevant mitigation measures, in order to let the EPD consider if the environmental impact has been minimised.

     Before responding to Dr Hon Lam's question, I must say that it is not appropriate for us to comment on issues relating to the case as EPD has lodged an appeal against the CFI Judgement. On Dr Hon Lam's question, I have the following response:

(a) There is freedom of speech in Hong Kong and the general public are very concerned about public policy and public affairs, and they can express their views through different channels. On the recent judicial review case on Hong Kong section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project, we note that there are different views in the community. They include also the views quoted in Dr Hon Lam's question, but we have not received any complaints providing specific information that required the Administration to undertake follow-up investigation.

(b) During the public inspection period and consultation with the Advisory Council on the Environment of the two HZMB EIA reports, EPD did not receive any comments on the baseline study in respect of existing air quality. There was also no request for the analysis of air quality in the future assessment year without the project in place. The Chief Secretary for Administration on May 20 this year at the special meeting of the House Committee of Legislative Council had responded clearly to the relevant questions. All the documents and discussions of the Legislative Council and its Committees are public information. I shall not repeat in quoting the records.

Ends/Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:35


Print this page