LCQ5: Works staff briefed to enhance environmental awareness

Following is a question by the Hon Choy So-yuk and an oral reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, in the Legislative Council meeting today (March 3):


Will the Government inform this Council whether, in order to equip the works staff with sufficient knowledge to prevent works projects from causing unnecessary nuisance to residents nearby and inflicting unnecessary damage on the environment:

(a) it has provided the civil servants responsible for works projects with training programmes in environmental protection, including educating them on the criteria and measures for reducing site noises and protecting the ecological environment and trees, etc; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(b) it knows if the engineering courses offered by universities and tertiary institutions include the environmental protection training programmes mentioned in (a); if so, of the weightings of such training programmes in the relevant engineering courses?


Madam President,

(a) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has organised training seminars and workshops under the Construction Partnership Programme to heighten the awareness on environmental protection of works-related personnel (including civil servants responsible for works projects) by, among others, giving advice on ways to reduce site noises, protect the ecological environment and reduce tree felling.  The Community Relations Unit of EPD also provided 11 training programmes in the past two years (with a total of 55 workshop sessions) for 650 government works-related staff to enhance their environmental awareness.

In addition, the EPD established a dedicated Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO) Support Section in July 2002 to help works-related public officers in government departments gain a better understanding of the EIAO requirements.  One of its tasks is to deliver an EIA Training and Capacity Building Programme for these officers so as to raise their environmental awareness in planning and implementing works projects.  In light of the welcoming response, the Programme has been extended to contractors, professional institutes and private and public sector corporations.  Between November 2002 and February 2004, 34 tailor-made workshops were provided to about 820 professionals from different backgrounds.  Around 450 of them, who participated in 20 workshops, were from government works departments.  The EPD has also prepared a Training Manual and launched a web-based e-learning platform to promote a better understanding of the EIA mechanism among government works staff.  Furthermore, the EPD operates an EIA Helpdesk Hotline to answer general enquiries on EIA matters.  Between July 2002 and February 2004, the Hotline provided assistance to over 150 enquiries, of which 60 were from government works-related officers.

In addition to training, we have also issued technical circulars to require works departments to conduct EIAs according to the category of works projects so as to minimise the environmental impacts of the projects in the implementation and operation stages.  Tree felling is explicitly prohibited in government works projects unless it is absolutely necessary and there are no other alternatives.  Even under such circumstances, compensatory planting of trees will be carried out as far as practicable.

(b) University Grants Committee (UGC) - funded institutions and the Vocational Training Council offer many different engineering courses, including civil engineering, building services engineering and environmental engineering courses etc. Environmental protection subjects are generally included in these courses, but their weightings depend on the nature and teaching targets of individual courses.  As such, it may not be appropriate to give a generalised figure.  I also want to point out that the universities also have courses on environmental protection management.  Although, these are not engineering courses, they also enroll students major in engineering.

Ends/Wednesday, March 3, 2004