Author: John Lee, Kelvin Tang
Air pollution is dealt with under a large number of different laws in Hong Kong. Both the Environmental Protection Department and the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Improving Air Quality have compiled differing lists of legislation relating to air quality. (1)
1. Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap 311)
The is the principal law for managing air quality. Regulations under this Ordinance cover specific areas related to air pollution, such as power plant emissions, motor vehicle fuel and emissions, and industrial emissions. Air pollution from vessels, railways locomotive and aircraft is excluded from the coverage of APCO. Also enables promulgation of regulations and technical memoranda. For more, please refer to the Air Pollution Control Ordinance article.
2. Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap 499)
Designated projects under this Ordinance need to follow the statutory environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and requires Environmental Permits for their construction and operation.
Designated projects are listed in Schedule 2 and 3 under this Ordinance. According to Section 4 of this Ordinance, the Secretary for the Environment shall amend the lists of designated projects by order published in the Gazette.
The Secretary has issued Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process under Section 16(5) of this Ordinance, by order published in the Gazette. The technical memorandum sets out principles, procedures, guidelines, requirements and criteria for the technical content of project profile, EIA study brief and EIA report. The Air Quality Objectives are adopted as the criteria for evaluating air quality impact to the air sensitive receivers in the technical memorandum. The technical memorandum is not a subsidiary legislation.
The Director of Environmental Protection is responsible for enforcement of this Ordinance. Domestic premises, hotel, hostel, hospital, clinic, nursery, temporary housing accommodation, school, educational institution, office, factory, shop, shopping centre, place of public workshop, library, court of law, sports stadium or performing arts centre are air sensitive receiver defined in the technical memorandum. (s.1.2, Annex 12, Technical Memorandum on Environmental Impact Assessment Process)
3. Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap 374)
This Ordinance is mainly for regulating road traffic, vehicles and users of roads and related matters with provisions limiting pollution from vehicles. It also provides powers to require the registered owner of a motor vehicle to have the motor vehicle tested at a vehicle emission testing centre for the purpose of ascertaining whether the motor vehicle complies with vehicle emission standards (section 77B). Moreover, powers are provided to police officers to stop a motor vehicle which is on a road or in any public place and test the vehicle for excessive smoke or visible vapour (section 66). Transport Department is the party to enforce this Ordinance.
4. Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap 132)
This Ordinance contains provisions for urban services and public health, including control of nuisance caused by emission of fumes. (section 12(1)(e))
5. Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap 313)
This Ordinance regulates smoke emissions from control ports, vessels and navigation. The Director of Marine is responsible for enforcement of this Ordinance. It is an offence for any ocean-going vessel in the waters of Hong Kong to emit smoke in such quantity as to be a nuisance (Part VII - Pollution of air, section 50(1)).
6. Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Ordinance (Cap 413)
This Ordinance provides for the prevention and control of pollution from ships and for incidental or related matters. The Director of Marine is responsible for enforcement of this Ordinance. (section 3)
7. Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance (Cap 548)
This Ordinance sets out that it is an offence for any local vessel in the waters of Hong Kong to emit smoke in such quantity as to be a nuisance (s.51).
8. Town Planning Ordinance (Cap 131)
This Ordinance aims to promote the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the community by making provisions for the systematic preparation and approval of plans for the lay-out of areas of Hong Kong. Air quality is closely related to town planning, and the AQO are adopted as criteria to satisfy at the air sensitive receivers when preparing development plans, planning transport and determining application for planning permission. Headed by the Director of Planning, the Planning Department is the executive arm of the Town Planning Board, which is responsible for formulating, monitoring and reviewing town plans, planning policies and associated programmes for the physical development of Hong Kong.
9. Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Cap. 109)
This Ordinance imposes duty on hydrocarbon oil and Euro V diesel is exempted from duty (Part III of Schedule 1).
10. Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) Ordinance (Cap. 330)
This Ordinance imposes first registration tax (FRT) on motor vehicles and electric vehicles are exempted from FRT (section 5).
11. Ozone Layer Protection Ordinance (Cap. 403)
This Ordinance gives effect to Hong Kong's international obligations under the 1985 Vienna Convention, the 1987 Montreal Protocol and any amendments to control the manufacture, import and export of ozone depleting substances.
12. Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228)
This Ordinance provides for the control on dropping dirt in a public place, for example from trucks onto a public road.
Not all the laws that regulate air pollution are necessarily geared towards the protection of health. (2)