LCQ8: Supplementary radar

Following is a question by the Hon Patrick Lau Sau-shing and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 7):


The Civil Engineering and Development Department will soon commence works to install a supplementary radar and an equipment room on the rooftop of the North Point Government Offices (NPGO) to enable the Marine Department to keep surveillance of the sea conditions. Given the huge size of the facilities (three to five metres wide and some 10 metres high) and that they will be located right in front of the rooms, which have seaview, on the top three floors of a nearby hotel, concerns and objections have been raised by the affected parties in the vicinity. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether, prior to deciding to provide such facilities, it had thoroughly consulted the management of the hotel concerned as well as the people who live or work in the neighbourhood, and disclosed to them, the Town Planning Board and the Eastern District Council the actual size of the facilities, their visual impact and the possible effect of the radiation released on a person's health; if it had not, of the reasons for that;

(b) of the population within 500 metres of NPGO; whether similar facilities in Hong Kong are all located far away from residential buildings and at least 200 metres away from commercial buildings, and which of these facilities were installed before 1997;

(c) whether, prior to deciding to provide the above facilities, it had made reference to examples of similar large-scale facilities installed on the rooftop of commercial or residential buildings in other developed regions; if so, of the details; if not, whether the reason of not making reference is that Hong Kong is the first international city which will have such large-scale radar facilities installed in such a location;

(d) whether the authorities have conducted risk assessments on the installation of such facilities, as well as formulated close surveillance procedure and contingency measures in the event of radar system failure; if so, of the details;

(e) whether it has compared the selected location and radiation level of the above facilities against the safety standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and conducted public consultation in accordance with the procedure recommended by WHO; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(f) whether it has considered installing the above facilities at locations far away from the densely populated urban areas, and conducted feasibility studies in this regard; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(g) whether it has assessed if international criticism and radical protesting actions will be aroused, and if both the international image of Hong Kong and the image of the Government will be tarnished, should the Government insist on its original plan to install such facilities; if it has not conducted such an assessment, of the reasons for that?



The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is going to install a supplementary radar at the rooftop of the North Point Government Offices (NPGO) to re-provision an existing similar one located at the old Kai Tak Airport. This kind of radar emits low-dosage Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiations. According to the advice given by independent expert, emissions from such installation have no adverse effect on human health. Apart from the radar at Kai Tak, similar radar has been installed at the rooftop of Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan. All on site measurements conducted by CEDD at these two radars indicate that the radiations emitted by the radars are far below the standard level established by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The World Health Organization considers that there is no evidence at present to show that human health will be adversely affected by EMF exposure below the ICNIRP standard level.

I provide below replies to the seven questions raised.

(a) Please refer to Annex on the consultations carried out in respect of the installation of the supplementary radar. In the planning application submitted by CEDD to the Town Planning Board in April 2007, detailed information including the actual size, appearance and radiation levels of the supplementary radar had been included. In accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance, notices had been published in the newspapers and letters had been sent to adjacent buildings (including a hotel) and concerned District Council Members. In the information paper submitted to the Eastern District Council in July 2007, CEDD had provided information on radiation levels together with a photomontage of the supplementary radar for reference. CEDD had improved the appearance of the radar by replacing the sphere-shaped radome to one with architectural features after receiving the approval of the Town Planning Board to its planning application.

(b) There are about 30,000 people residing within a 500-metre zone from NPGO. The radiations emitted from the supplementary radar are only directed towards the waters of the Victoria Harbour where nobody resides. The existing radars at the Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan and Kai Tak, which are located within densely populated and busy industrial and commercial areas, have been in safe operation for surveillance of the vessels in the harbour for about 20 years.

(c) CEDD has taken into account Hong Kong's unique topographical conditions including the existing and planned developments along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island and the visual impact of the supplementary radar in deciding its location. The design of the radar complies with the standards established by ICNIRP, which are applicable to all developed countries and international cities. Besides, the Marine Department has long experience in installing and operating similar radars at rooftop of buildings. This will ensure the safe operation of the supplementary radar.

(d) There are currently eleven similar radars at different locations in Hong Kong, including the three installed at Shun Tak Centre, Container Terminal No. 8 and Kai Tak. These three radars are all located at densely populated and busy industrial and commercial areas. All the eleven radars are connected to the Marine Department's Vessel Traffic Control Centre at Shun Tak Centre in which they are monitored round the clock. All the radars have been operated safely in the past years with very low risk. The supplementary radar is an installation that emits low-dosage EMF radiations and therefore the emissions will not become high-dosage even when the radar malfunctions. Should the radars malfunction, the Vessel Traffic Control Centre will immediately be aware of and will arrange urgent repair.

(e) As mentioned above, the radiations emitted by the supplementary radar will be restricted to the waters of the Victoria Harbour. They will not affect nearby residents and the staff who work in the NPGO.  The radiation levels are far below that established by ICNIRP. With regard to public consultation, please refer to paragraph (a) above.

(f) CEDD in association with relevant departments have carefully considered the site to be selected for the supplementary radar, taking into account various factors including surveillance coverage, visual intrusion, security reason and the provision of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance. The rooftop of NPGO is confirmed to be the most suitable site taking into account all the factors mentioned above.

(g) The supplementary radar is designed and will be operated in accordance with the ICNIRP standards. It will not impair the image of Hong Kong as an international city. CEDD will continue to explain to the concerned people where necessary based on objective information in order to alleviate their concerns on the installation of the supplementary radar.

Ends/Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:16