Speech at Panel on Environmental Affairs

III. Proposed amendments to Designated Areas in Noise Control (Construction Work Designated Areas) Notice (Cap. 400L), Noise Control (Air Compressors) Regulations (Cap. 400C) and Noise Control (Hand Held Percussive Breakers) Regulations (Cap. 400D)

Designated areas in Noise Control (Construction Work Designated Areas) Notice

Members asked why parts of the proposed designated areas within the Kai Tak Development Area and the Anderson Road Development Area would take effect from 1 January 2027 but not earlier.

The Administration explained that new designated areas within the Kai Tak Development Area and the Anderson Road Development Area would take effect in two phases. The parts encompassing completed residential developments would take effect from 1 September 2023, while the remaining parts would take effect from 1 January 2027, having regard to the population intake schedule.

Other measures for reducing construction noise nuisance

Members asked whether the Administration would consider introducing (a) a scheme to restrict the durations of percussive piling works on Saturdays near densely populated residential areas; and (b) requirements on the use of automated noise monitoring systems on works sites, with reference to the latest laws and practices in the Mainland. They also asked about the Administration’s plan for using innovative technologies to enhance the monitoring and management of construction noise.

The Administration explained that percussive piling was prohibited between 7 pm and 7 am, and on Sundays and holidays. A Construction Noise Permit (“CNP”) was required for carrying out percussive piling during the permitted hours, i.e. from 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays not being public holidays. Depending on the nature of the noise sensitive receivers, a CNP holder might be allowed to carry out percussive piling for a total duration of 3, 5 or 12 hours during the permitted hours each day. In the early 1990s, about 400 to 500 CNPs for percussive piling were issued annually. The construction industry had been gradually adopting bored piling, which was a quieter construction method compared to percussive piling. At present, only about 100 CNPs for percussive piling were issued annually, and this construction method was mainly used when bored piling was unsuitable due to site constraints. The Administration would study the feasibility of tightening the permitted hours for percussive piling works on Saturdays.

On construction noise monitoring, the Administration advised that environmental monitoring and audit requirements were imposed, as conditions in Environmental Permits, on designated projects under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap. 499), and these requirements might include the setting up of a continuous noise monitoring mechanism for the works sites. The Administration would review the need for requiring the installation of noise monitoring systems on all works sites. The Administration also advised that the Environmental Protection Department (“EPD”) was collaborating with the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute to develop a construction noise monitoring system with the application of artificial intelligence. System testing would be progressively conducted at various construction sites. The Administration would report the testing results to Members in due course.

IV. Annual tariff reviews with the two power companies

Members asked about the forecast for fuel costs and strategies for preventing or minimizing further FCC spikes.

The Administration responded that based on a comparison between the current energy crisis and the 1970s energy crisis, there were indications that global fuel prices might peak in the near future. If this was the case, then the Administration expected that FCCs could be stabilized in 2023 through the established monthly FCC adjustment mechanism of the two power companies. If, however, global fuel prices continued to rise in the year ahead, then the Administration would discuss other methods for containing FCC increases with the power companies.