Author: Ip Tsz Yan Natalie, BBA (Law) IV; HKU
A judicial review has been filed in respect of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge project. Many concerns have been raised in respect of the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment for the Hong Kong part of the bridge, which enters the territory near the airport where air pollution is already a problem.
The case may be similar to Shiu Wing Steel Ltd v Director of Environmental Protection (2006) 9 HKCFAR 303, where the Court of Final Appeal quashed the decision of the Director of Environmental Protection approving an environmental impact assessment report because of the absence of a quantitative risk assessment.
Similarly, a number of failings have come to light in the environmental impact assessment report on the bridge project. Of particular relevance to air pollution are the limited consideration of sulphur dioxide (despite concerns in respect of sulphur dioxide emissions from cross-boundary vehicles), ozone and carbon monoxide, and the reliance upon China’s projections in respect of cross-boundary emissions in 2020 rather than proper consideration of the difficulties of enforcing the implementation and maintenance of Euro IV and V standards for motor vehicles from China. Further fallacies include the assumption that power stations would be able to increase utilisation of natural gas by 2015, with emissions from power stations capped at the 2015 level up to the year 2031, ignoring the possibilities of power generation growth and the assumption that Hong Kong International Airport would reach operational capacity in 2020, capping emissions at that level without considering possible further development of the airport.
Of greatest concern, however, is the failure of the report to properly disclose the potential health impact of the bridge and its associated traffic on the residents of Tung Chung. Merely meeting current AQOs is unsatisfactory for this purpose, as it is now clear that air quality which meets those objectives can still prejudice health.