LCQ13: Study on regulating external lighting installations

     Following is a question by the Hon James To and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):


     In March this year, the Government informed this Council of its study on regulating external lighting installations for resolving the issues of energy wastage and light nuisance.  It also proposed to set up the Task Force on External Lighting (Task Force) and formulate the Guidelines on Industry Best Practices for External Lighting Installations (Guidelines).  The Government stated in its paper that it "plan(s) to set up the Task Force in the second quarter of 2011" and "would write to all stakeholders and invite their comments in the next three months before the draft guidelines are finalized for promulgation".  However, when I met the representative of the Environmental Protection Department in September this year, the representative said that the consultation on the Guidelines was still in progress.  It was until October that the Secretary for the Environment indicated the Guidelines would be promulgated at the end of this year.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the stakeholders being invited by the authorities to give their comments on the Guidelines; the comments collected and whether the authorities will report such comments to the public and this Council;

(b) given that the Task Force could not be set up in the second quarter of this year as scheduled, why the authorities could only complete the procedure for appointing Task Force members in August this year; of the work progress of the Task Force so far, and whether it has started the work on collecting public views as well as publicity and education, etc.; if it has, set out in chronological order all the work done and dates of meetings held; and

(c) given that the authorities have not yet promulgated the Guidelines, and the establishment of the Task Force has been delayed, whether, according to the estimation of the authorities, the Task Force can complete its work in early 2012 as scheduled; if not, of the measures in place to expedite the work progress which is behind schedule at present; and when the authorities expect to promulgate the Guidelines?



     The Government is concerned about the problems caused by external lighting.  The Environment Bureau (ENB) commissioned in 2009 a consultancy study on external lighting to look into the issues of energy wastage and light nuisance that may be caused by external lighting installations.  The study looked into the experiences of metropolises of similar situation with Hong Kong in handling external lighting problem, surveyed the views of relevant stakeholders, and researched into the usage of external lighting in Hong Kong.

     In light of the findings of the consultancy study, we briefed the Environmental Affairs Panel (EA Panel) of the Legislative Council in March 2011 on the proposed measures to deal with issues related to external lighting installations.  These proposed measures include promulgating a set of "Guidelines on Industry Best Practices for External Lighting Installations" (the Guidelines) to encourage voluntary actions to minimise light nuisance and energy wastage.  Meanwhile, the Government will lead by example and adopt appropriate measures to avoid its external lighting installations from causing nuisance to nearby residents.  We also proposed to set up a Task Force on External Lighting (Task Force) to study the issues of energy wastage and light nuisance caused by external lighting installations, and prepare recommendations for submission to the Government. We have since been implementing the various proposed measures.

     Our replies to the specific questions raised by Hon James To are as follows:

(a) The Guidelines set out some general good practices on design, installation and operation of external lighting installations for the reference of lighting designers, contractors, owners and users.  The Guidelines cover operating hours for lighting, automatic controls for lighting, light pollution control measures and energy efficiency measures.  The Government consulted about 100 bodies from different stakeholder groups on the Guidelines, including professional institutions, trade associations, green groups, property-related associations, tourism-related bodies, and district bodies.  Among the views received, the majority supported the issue of the Guidelines and suggested striking a balance between protecting the environment and catering for actual operational needs when dealing with issues on external lighting.  Some were of the view that apart from issuing a set of voluntary guidelines, the Government should introduce legislation in the long run to regulate external lighting.

     We have taken due consideration of the views received and consulted the Task Force.  While the Task Force will study the applicability of different options to regulate external lighting in the local context and their related technical standards, it also agreed that the Government should first promulgate the Guidelines to encourage early action by stakeholders to minimise the problems that may be caused by external lighting.  The Government will issue the Guidelines as soon as possible.

(b) and (c) ENB set up the Task Force in August 2011, with members drawn from different professional bodies, relevant trades and green groups.  The terms of reference of the Task Force include developing technical standards and parameters suitable for regulating external lighting in Hong Kong, having regard to international experience and practices; engaging different stakeholders to forge a consensus; and advising the Government on the way forward to tackle nuisance and energy wastage caused by external lighting.

     The Task Force has already commenced its work in full.  Since August 2011, the Task Force and its Working Groups have held four meetings to receive a briefing by the consultant on overseas experiences in tackling external lighting problems, and map out the direction of future work.  The Task Force is now studying whether the technical standards and parameters in different overseas cities are applicable to Hong Kong.  It will organise in the near future briefings on the Guidelines for stakeholders and solicit their views on how to regulate external lighting in Hong Kong.

     Light nuisance and energy wastage caused by external lighting involve issues of high complexity.  Different stakeholders and relevant sectors of the community may have different views.  The Task Force will continue to actively pursue its work highlighted above and listen to the views of various stakeholders.

Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:28