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Chapter 9 : Environment

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1. Executive Summary

2. Principles of Environmental Planning

2.1 Aims of Environmental Planning

2.2 The Approach to Environmental Planning

2.3 General Environmental Considerations in Land Use Planning

2.4 Hybrid Environmental Planning Issues

3. Air Quality

3.1 Policy Objectives

3.2 Broad Locational Guidelines

3.3 Guidelines for Potentially Polluting Uses

3.4 Guidelines For Sensitive Uses

3.5 Ventilation Corridors

4. Noise

4.1 Policy Objectives

4.2 Guidelines of Noise Emitters

4.3 Guidelines to Reduce Noise Exposure

4.4 Guidelines for Developments in Rural Area

5. Water Quality

5.1 Policy Objectives

5.2 Guidelines for Potentially Polluting Uses

5.3 Guidelines for Sensitive Uses

6. Waste Management

6.1 Policy Objectives

6.2 Standards and Guidelines for Waste Reception and Transfer Facilities

6.3 Guidelines for Industries with Special Requirements for Waste Disposal

6.4 Guidelines for Community Facilities with Special Requirements for Waste Disposal

6.5 Guidelines for Developments close to Landfills

Appendix 2.1  Definitions of Environmental Terms

Appendix 3.1  Hong Kong Air Quality Objectives (AQOs)

Appendix 3.2  Principal Framework for Planning against Air Pollution

Appendix 3.3  List of Specified Processes

Appendix 4.1  Principal Framework for Planning against Noise

Appendix 4.2  Definitions of Noise Units and Criteria

Appendix 4.3  Assessment of Road Traffic Noise Impact

Appendix 4.4  Suitable Window Types for Noise Insulation

Appendix 5.1  Principal Framework for Planning against Water Pollution

Appendix 6.1  Principal Framework for Waste Management

Appendix 6.2  Offensive Trades

Appendix A    Environmental Protection Legislation


March 2014 Edition


 

1. Executive Summary


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1.1 In June 1989, the Government published a major policy document, the White Paper on ‘Pollution in Hong Kong' The White Paper placed considerable emphasis on environmental planning, stating that "serious environmental pollution in Hong Kong is an unfortunate by‑product of economic success and population growth. One of the Government's major priorities is to halt the decline in environmental conditions and to do more to improve our environment"

1.2 This chapter of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) provides guidance for including environmental considerations in the planning of both public and private developments. It applies both to the planning of permanent or temporary uses which will have potential to cause significant changes to the biophysical environment or which are sensitive to environmental impacts. The standards and criteria included in this document will need to be applied with a degree of flexibility and not in isolation. But any departure from them should not be accepted without full consideration of all the implications and the long term adverse effects on living conditions in Hong Kong.

1.3 A summary of the environmental guidelines for major land uses is shown in Table 1.1. The typical environmental factors influencing land use planning are given in Table 1.2. For reference, the recommended buffer distances for land uses are summarised in Table 1.3. The guidelines may be applied at three broad planning levels: strategic/territorial, sub‑regional and district/local planning. It is of paramount importance to address environmental problems and incorporate environmental factors and criteria throughout the land use planning process. In applying the guidelines for the preparation of land use plans, it will be necessary to take account of resultant implications of alternative measures and trade‑offs between associated costs and benefits to the community in general. It is essential that these guidelines should be applied with due regard to the application guidance given in Chapter 1 of HKPSG.

1.4 Section 2 of this chapter describes Government’s approach to environmental planning and general environmental considerations in land use planning. Subsequent sections deal with different aspects of environmental quality and, where appropriate, contain :

(a) a summary of existing environmental legislation and its implications for planning;

(b) guidelines for locating new developments or redevelopments having the potential to cause nuisance or pollution with a view to minimising the adverse environmental impacts from them;

(c) guidelines for locating sensitive uses with a view to minimising the adverse environmental impacts on them;

(d) standards for and guidelines on the provision of environmental facilities; and

(e) guidance on design, layout, phasing and operational controls for use in situations where non-environmental factors are overriding and restrict full application of the above.

1.5 Achieving a satisfactory environment depends to a large extent on incorporating environmental considerations in the early stages of planning. The opportunities for improvement are considerably greater in new developments and extensive redevelopments than in existing situations, particularly in the urbanised areas. However, there is little scope for improvement if the criteria for environmental quality of new developments are assessed in terms of their being no worse than those in existing urban areas. This is reflected in the higher standards set in this Chapter for new developments or redevelopments.

1.6 The relevant environmental protection legislation and regulations presently in force or under preparation are summarised in Appendix A. In general, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is the responsible authority for environmental protection matters, environmental planning and environmental impact assessment in Hong Kong. This chapter provides only broad guidelines and detailed advice should be sought from EPD on specific guidelines and mitigation measures. On matters for which DEP is not the authority, consultation should be made to the relevant authorities as shown in Appendix A. Co-operation from concerned departments is important in ensuring the successful implementation of the guidelines.

1.7 Many development projects have the potential to cause significant damage to the environment. Certain development projects, known as Designated Projects, in Hong Kong are subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO) (Cap.499). Designated Projects specified under Schedule 2 of the EIAO, unless exempted, must follow the statutory EIA process and require environmental permits for the construction and operation (and if applicable, decommissioning). In the environmental permit, appropriate mitigation measures may be set as conditions of implementing the projects. The purpose is to avoid, minimise and control the adverse impact on the environment arising from the projects. 


2. Principles of Environmental Planning


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2.1 Aims of Environmental Planning

2.1.1 To achieve a better environment through planning, a systematic approach to environmental planning is essential. Environmental planning addresses the relationships among activities, environment, natural resources and environmental effects of activities for the purpose of optimising environmental quality and capacity. As outlined in the White Paper on Pollution, the Government's overall policy objectives for environmental planning are:

(a) "to avoid creating new environmental problems by ensuring the consequences for the environment are properly taken into account in site selection, planning and design of all new developments"; and

(b) "to seize opportunities for environmental improvement as they arise in the course of urban redevelopment ...."

2.2 The Approach to Environmental Planning
2.2.1 A flow chart showing the typical steps that should be taken in environmental planning is shown in Figure 2.1. Proper land use planning, along with appropriate controls at sources through licensing and enforcement of environmental protection ordinances, plays an important role in protecting the environment. Applying these planning steps will help achieve the following:

(a) proposed land uses in particular development areas are environmentally suitable;

(b) proposed land uses in the same development area are compatible with each other; and

(c) adequate and suitably sited environmental facilities are provided to ensure proper handling and disposal of all wastes and waste water arising from proposed developments.

2.2.2 To promote the suitability of land uses in a particular development area, an analysis of the environmental implications of the development should be carried out by proponents or development agents in consultation with EPD. The environmental suitability of a site for a certain land use is governed by such factors as:

(a) natural environmental characteristics including topography, climate, hydrological and hydrographical characteristics, vegetation, wildlife and habitat, and soil conditions;

(b) the nature, distribution and consequences of the residuals including aerial emissions, wastes, sewage or noise generated by land uses in the development area;

(c) the capacity of the environment to receive additional developments, for example, the capacity of an airshed or water basin to receive and assimilate residuals or the capacity of the environment infrastructure such as sewerage and waste reception facilities to accommodate further residuals; and

(d) existing land uses.

2.2.3 Figure 2.2 gives a matrix showing environmental concerns for various land uses. Those land uses that are considered as environmental facilities are marked with an asterisk and efforts should be made to ensure adequate provision of suitable land and access for these facilities. The definitions of environmental terms that are commonly used in this chapter are listed in Appendix 2.1.

2.2.4 As shown in Figure 2.2, the environmental concerns relating to various types of land use against different environmental aspects can be classified into three types according to the likelihood and severity of, or sensitivity to, environmental impacts:

Type I :

Some of the activities common in such land uses may cause, or be sensitive to, environmental impacts under certain conditions, though less serious than Type II and III. These impacts may be minimised through careful disposition of land uses, imposition of development restrictions or control measures.

Type II :

A majority of the activities common in such land uses have potential to cause, or may be sensitive to, environmental impacts. Environmental standards and guidelines should be applied to minimise potential adverse impacts through proper land use zoning and site layout. The type and severity of environmental implications of the land uses should be identified. Scoped environmental assessments of the developments at the project planning stage may be necessary.

Type III :

The relevant land uses are likely to cause significant environmental concerns by virtue of either their potential to cause significant environmental impacts, or their high sensitivity to pollution. The greatest care must be exercised in site selection for these land uses to address the specific environmental concerns. The associated environmental standards and guidelines must be fully observed. Detailed Environmental Impact Assessments of the developments at the project planning stage may be necessary in such cases.

2.2.5 Those land uses which are in conflict with environmental constraints of development areas should be avoided or relocated as far as possible. If the location of incompatible land uses in close proximity is unavoidable, the environmental standards and guidelines regarding the disposition of land uses and structures should be applied to limit the impacts to acceptable levels. The feasibility of imposing development restrictions or control measures should be considered, in cases where there are limitations on the extent to which impacts may be minimised through land use zoning and site layout.

2.3 General Environmental Considerations in Land Use Planning

2.3.1 The following general environmental considerations should be considered at the earliest possible stage in preparing land use plans and/or planning briefs.

  Air Quality Considerations

2.3.2 Air quality is affected by such factors as the emission rate of air pollutants, the separation distance between emission sources and receptors, topography, height and width of buildings as well as meteorology. Every planning effort should be made to ensure that:

(a) large air pollution emitters are not located in areas where the dispersion of air pollutants is inhibited or where the present air pollution is already serious;

(b) wherever practicable, major air pollution emitters are sited to the west or southwest of urban areas and new towns to take advantage of the prevailing north-easterly winds;

(c) in the siting of Specified Processes (as defined in the Air Pollution Control Ordinance and summarised in Appendix 3.3), which are major air pollution emitters, the anticipated air quality impacts should be adequately addressed prior to the finalisation of the site;

(d) high-rise buildings and low-rise air pollution emitters are not located close to each other;

(e) new traffic generators, especially those of goods vehicles, are not located in areas which currently have severe air pollution;

(f)  adequate buffer distance or screening is provided between sensitive receptors and potential air pollution emitters; and

(g) the land use pattern will minimise the demand for road traffic and facilitate the development of railway network so that the vehicle emissions can be kept to the minimum.

  Noise considerations

2.3.3 The basic role of planning against noise is to provide an environment whereby noise impacts on sensitive uses are maintained at acceptable levels. The principle is to ensure that: 

(a) new noise sensitive uses are located where they will not be exposed to excessive noise levels;

(b) new noise emitters are located as far as possible so as not to introduce excessive levels of noise to existing, committed or planned sensitive uses; and

(c) where other constraints do not permit either of the above, noise reduction designs should be incorporated into the noise emitters at the earliest stage of planning. Where a completely acceptable noise exposure cannot be obtained at the noise sensitive uses, acoustic insulation should be provided.

  Water Quality Considerations

2.3.4 It should be noted that there is a general shift of estuarine to oceanic conditions in a west to east direction in the coastal waters of Hong Kong. Any major developments which are likely to cause significant disruption to water circulation should be either avoided as far as possible or subjected to water quality modelling tests prior to the finalisation of site selection.

2.3.5 Any development which causes either conflict with the constraints or damage of the resources and amenity areas should be avoided, unless the conflict can be resolved or the imposition of appropriate development controls is practicable. The water-based developments should be located such that bulk water exchange is maximised.

  Waste Management Considerations

2.3.6 In the preparation of land use plans, effort should be made to reserve sufficient sites in suitable locations for municipal waste reception and transfer facilities. Consideration should also be given to the special requirements for waste disposal of some community facilities and industries. As some uses have potential to cause nuisances and to give rise to special requirements for waste disposal and effluent discharge, due consideration should be given to their location and design to minimise the potential impacts.

2.4 Hybrid Environmental Planning Issues

  Industrial and Residential Interface (I/RI)

2.4.1 Industrial and residential interface problems arise due to the close proximity of industrial developments to residential areas, often causing air, noise, and water pollution. In planning for a new development or redevelopment area, consideration should be given as to whether I/RI situations exist or may arise in the planning areas in future, with special regard to high-rise sensitive developments. Classification of the I/RI problems and possible measures to redress the problem are listed in the following table. Opportunities for redressing the interface problems should be explored during the planning of redevelopments with a view to reducing the extent and severity of I/RI problems.

[ Simple Table Format ]

Type of Pollution Types of Interface Nature of Problems Possible Measures Reference Section
Air chimney interface air pollutant plume adequate buffering, height restrictions on developments 3.2.2, 3.3.3, 3.4.1
non-chimney interface odour, heat adequate buffering 3.3.2, 3.4.1
Air and Noise large scale interface multiple pollution sources adequate buffering, comprehensive redevelopment 3.2.2, 3.3.2, 3.3.3, 4.2.13 - 14, 4.3
Noise extremely noisy interface severe noise source (same as Type III in
Figure 2.2)
buffering, screening, comprehensive redevelopment 4.2.13 - 14, 4.3
moderately noisy interface moderate noise source (same as Type I & II in
Figure 2.2)
buffering, screening, land use layout barriers or insulation 4.2.13 - 14, 4.3
Water wastewater/ runoff interface polluted streams/ watercourse buffering, screening, local improvement scheme 5.2.1


2.4.2 Large scale interfaces are most problematic, involving long stretches of I/RI with multiple pollution sources often causing serious air pollution and noise problems. Although buffering and screening can be used to ameliorate the adverse impacts under certain conditions, the possibility of comprehensive and properly planned redevelopment of the affected areas, along with appropriate controls at sources, should be fully explored. The standards and guidelines described in other sections of this chapter should be applied as vigorously as possible.

  Development Phasing

2.4.3 Phasing of developments or redevelopments is a relevant issue as incompatible uses may exist in close proximity to each other during transition periods. In some comprehensive redevelopments of certain industrial areas in the past, a portion of the industrial area was redeveloped into a residential use while the remaining part remained unchanged, causing severe air, noise and water pollution at the industrial and residential interface. When planning large scale developments or redevelopments, due consideration should be given to the programme phasing in order to minimise any environmental problems during transitional periods due to industrial and residential interfaces, high-rise buildings and low-rise emitters, or construction and earth moving activities.


3. Air Quality


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3.1 Policy Objectives
3.1.1 The Government's overall policy objectives for air pollution are :

(a) to limit the contamination of the air in Hong Kong, through land use planning and through the enforcement of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, to safeguard the health and well-being of the community; and

(b) to ensure that the Air Quality Objectives for 7 common air pollutants, as laid down in Appendix 3.1, are met as soon as possible.

3.1.2 Appendix 3.2 presents the principal framework for planning against air pollution and a summary of common pollution sources and sensitive uses.

3.2 Broad Locational Guidelines

3.2.1 In the preparation of land use plans, due consideration should be given to the location of major polluting uses with a view to improving the regional air quality. Major factors to be considered are:

(a) Current Air Pollution Levels

  Concentrations of NO2 and particulates are high, particularly at the older urban areas where motor vehicle usage is intense and vehicle exhausts are trapped between narrow roads and tall buildings. Ozone concentration shows a rising trend over the past decade. The phenomenon is more obvious outside the urban centres where regional air quality impact of the area within and around Hong Kong dominates.

(b) Topography

  Many areas in Hong Kong are topographically confined by hills and the air pollution dispersion in these areas is inhibited. The major airsheds of limited dispersive capacity are shown in Figure 3.1

(c) Prevailing Winds

  The prevailing winds in Hong Kong are north-easterly for about 80% of the year.

  Industrial areas

3.2.2 As a general guideline, further industrial developments in areas subject to severe air pollution, such as Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung, are not advisable. Future plans should aim, wherever practicable, at thinning out the industries in these areas. Sites for air-polluting industries should be located to the west or southwest of the main urban centres and new towns. Major air-polluting industries should preferably not be located in topographically-confined area. If this is unavoidable, an air quality impact assessment is likely required to evaluate the suitability of the site.

  Trunk Roads and Transportation Systems

3.2.3 There are considerable environmental advantages in the use of mass transportation systems, walking and, wherever appropriate, bicycling in the metropolitan area as well as in the topographically-confined areas. With regard to mass transportation systems, the use of electrically powered underground railways, particularly in high density development corridors, is environmentally preferable.

3.2.4 Wherever practicable, trunk roads should be aligned at the outskirts of urban centres in order to minimise adverse air quality impacts. With the same objective, major trunk roads and major traffic generating or attracting activities such as major ports and terminals should be located to the west of the main urban centres and new towns, wherever possible.

3.3 Guidelines for Potentially Polluting Uses

  Specified Processes

3.3.1 The air quality impacts of any sites for Specified Processes (Appendices 3.2 and 3.3) should be adequately addressed by means of an air quality impact assessment and mitigated as far as possible through the site selection process. Siting these processes to the west or southwest of the territory is environmentally desirable.

  Industrial Zones

3.3.2 For general multi-storey industrial sites without chimneys, a buffer distance of at least 100m from sensitive uses is normally required. Acceptable uses in the buffer area include godowns, cold storages, carparks, amenity areas and open spaces. There are some constraints for active open space uses (see Section 3.4.3). Other less sensitive uses such as commercial and government/institutional facilities can also be considered. However, these uses should be comparatively low-rise, air-conditioned and the distance between buildings and the industrial sites should exceed 30m.

3.3.3 High-rise buildings and comparatively low-rise chimneys or industrial buildings should not be located close to each other as it would cause serious air pollution due to direct impingement by the chimney plume onto the taller buildings. Thus, chimneys and industrial buildings will pose severe restraints on nearby new buildings. For major industrial areas such as Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung, the required separation distance may be well over 200m. EPD should be consulted if any sensitive uses are to be sited within 500m of an industrial area.

  Local Road Traffic

3.3.4 The minimum buffer distance required between roads and active open spaces is given in Table 3.1. In many cases, the impact of noise is the most serious effect of road traffic on the surrounding environment (see also Sections 4.2.5 - 4.2.8).

  Slaughterhouses 

3.3.5 Slaughterhouses and associated facilities for transporting livestock have the potential for odour nuisance from rendering operations and also have a pervading background odour from pens, paunch offal disposal and production areas. Wherever practicable, slaughterhouses should be sited in large open areas. Their separation from any residential areas, hospitals, schools and commercial areas should not be less than 300m with a rendering plant or not be less than 200m without a rendering plant. Low-rise buildings with ample open space in the surrounding areas should be encouraged.

  Sewage Treatment Works

3.3.6 Sewage treatment works can create an odour nuisance to neighbouring uses. Suitable buffer and landscaping features should be provided to minimise environmental and visual impacts on adjacent sensitive uses. The required buffer distance varies considerably, depending on the types of treatment facilities and whether or not the treatment works are enclosed.

  Village Incinerators

3.3.7 Village incinerators have the potential to cause severe local nuisance. It is intended to reduce the number of village incinerators through the provision of refuse collection services. In remote villages where the use of village incinerator is inevitable, a buffer distance of at least 100m from sensitive uses is required. Moreover, village incinerators should be sited in open areas.

  Other Polluting Uses

3.3.8 These uses include :

 

  • bus termini/public transport interchange

  • taxi and minibus stands

  • petrol filling stations
  • lorry parks

  • refuse collection points

  • cooked food stalls

  They should preferably be located in relatively open areas. Provision of low-rise surrounding buildings and ample open space is desirable. In the case where bus termini, lorry parks, taxi and minibus stands, refuse collection points and cooked food stalls are located within or beneath buildings, adequate mechanical ventilation and necessary pollution control measures will be required to avoid accumulation of aerial emissions. Siting petrol filling stations within buildings should be avoided as far as possible.

  Odour Sources

3.3.9 Some small scale community uses can cause significant air pollution nuisance, primarily due to odour. These include :

 

  • crematoria

  • stock wagon washing areas
  • livestock yards

  • wholesale fish and poultry markets

  Wherever practicable, these uses should be sited away from the main urban centres. Usually a buffer distance of at least 200m from nearby sensitive uses is required. Acceptable uses in the buffer area include industrial areas, godowns, cold storages, carparks and amenity areas. Open space uses may also be tolerated.

  Duty Uses

3.3.10 Virtually all uses, except for construction-related activities, are sensitive to dust nuisance. Siting of dusty uses in main urban areas or near to residential developments should be avoided as far as possible. As concrete batching plants and open storage areas are usually temporary, it is desirable to site these uses either in new reclamation areas sufficiently far away from urban areas or in other areas which are not yet fully developed. A buffer distance of at least 100m from other uses is required. The transportation routes to and from these uses should be designed, and necessary protective measures taken, to minimise dust nuisance.

3.4 Guidelines For Sensitive Uses

  High-rise Buildings

3.4.1 The siting of high-rise buildings or buildings at a topographically higher position should take into account any air plume impingement due to comparatively low-rise chimneys (see Section 3.3.3).

  Hospitals

3.4.2 Hospital sites generally require good air quality. Air conditioning may reduce some of the suspended particulates in polluted air but will not reduce other gaseous air pollutants. Siting of new hospitals within 500m of major industrial areas and large air pollution emitters such as quarries and incinerators, or in severely polluted urban centres should be avoided. If this guideline cannot be adhered to, EPD should be consulted. Conversely, hospitals may require large boilers and special purpose incinerators to burn pathological waste. Chimneys associated with this equipment have the potential to cause nuisance to neighbours and EPD should be consulted on their disposition and design.

  Open Space Sites

3.4.3 Classification and evaluation of open space sites and their permitted uses are given below :

[ Table Summary ]

Classification Criteria Permitted Use
Acceptable The health and enjoyment of users will not be adversely affected Active and passive recreational uses
Tolerable Under normal situations, the health of users should not be adversely affected but the enjoyment may be diminished Passive recreational uses
Unacceptable In the case of prolonged exposure, the health of users may be adversely affected Amenity areas


3.4.4 It should be noted that these classifications and their associated use restrictions may not necessarily apply to entire sites. In many cases, different portions of a site will have different classifications. Hence, the use restriction can often be accommodated through good layout design. The required buffer distance for each classification depends on the type of pollution source and the associated parameters. Three major pollution sources of concern are roads and highways, industrial areas, and construction and earth moving activities. The pollution sources, parameters to be considered, buffer distance requirements and permitted uses are given in Table 3.1.

3.4.5 Greater buffer distances for active facilities and children playgrounds should be encouraged. In any case, children playground should not be sited within 10m of any industrial building. As many dust-producing activities are temporary, the air quality constraints can often be accommodated through good development phasing.

3.5 Ventilation Corridors

3.5.1 Buildings can create an artificial confinement which can inhibit pollutant dispersion. In designing the land use pattern, space between buildings should be maximised. Moreover, the disposition of open spaces and building areas should be such that ventilation corridors passing through urban centres may be maintained to facilitate dispersion of air pollutant. These ventilation corridors will be most effective if they can cross major trunk roads. Flyovers built over trunk roads, or double-decked roads, in areas with poor air quality should be avoided as this arrangement can lead to the accumulation of air pollutants in the air space between. A set of guidelines is provided in Chapter 11 for reference during planning and design stages of projects for the purpose of improving air ventilation at district and site levels.


4. Noise


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4.1 Policy Objectives

4.1.1 The Government's overall policy objectives for noise control are :

(a) to control specific sources of noise through enforcement of the Noise Control Ordinance (NCO) and its associated regulations;

(b) to prescribe noise standards to guide those concerned with development in planning against noise in both the public and private sectors; and

(c) to have due regard to noise in planning public development projects.

4.1.2 Excessive levels of noise often interfere with verbal communication, disturb concentration, disrupt sleep, contribute to stress or otherwise detract significantly from the quality of life. These problems can occur within dwellings, schools, hospitals, residential care homes for the elderly and in recreational areas. Planning is one of the most effective means to ensure that such problems are avoided or reduced.

4.1.3 Appendix 4.1 presents the principal framework for planning against noise and a summary of noise emitters, noise sensitive and noise tolerant uses. A flowchart is included in Figure 4.1 to show the steps required for the planning of land uses which can be emitters or sensitive uses.

4.2 Guidelines of Noise Emitters

  Aircraft

4.2.1 Exposure to aircraft noise is described by Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) contours. NEF contours should be used together with the standards described in Table 4.1 to define areas where certain noise sensitive uses should not be located within specified NEF contours. The NEF standards applicable to the Hong Kong International Airport at Chep Lap Kok as stipulated in Table 4.1 should not be exceeded.

4.2.2 Aircraft noise is governed by the Civil Aviation (Aircraft Noise) Ordinance (Cap 312). For details of the aircraft noise management, Civil Aviation Department should be consulted.

  Helicopter

4.2.3 Helicopters are extremely versatile aircraft and their noise impact cannot be easily defined without elaborating definitions of a variety of operating parameters. Owing to their relatively infrequent movements, it is more appropriate for planning purposes to observe the daytime (7a.m. - 7p.m.) permissible maximum noise levels at noise sensitive uses. Night-time operations of helicopters will generally be more intrusive than daytime operations. In general, a helipad should not be located in such a way that the daytime maximum noise levels at sensitive uses listed in Table 4.1 will be exceeded. Advice from EPD should be sought if it is anticipated that helicopters will be operated:

(a) in a tranquil environment; or

(b) during late-evening and night-time.

4.2.4 While the impacts on the immediate environs of the helipad should be of the greatest concern due to the relatively longer duration of manoeuvring over the helipad compound, the flight paths should also be one of the considerations for siting a helipad.

  Road Traffic

4.2.5 The severity of road traffic noise impact on sensitive uses depends on many variables, some of which can be controlled or influenced by land use planning. These variables include :

(a) road alignment, i.e. providing distance separation between the noise receiver and the vehicles;

(b) traffic composition and volume, i.e. using traffic planning and management to control vehicle movements and type of vehicles at different times of the day;

(c) line-of-sight, i.e. using noise-tolerant buildings to reduce the angle of view of receiver on road traffic; and

(d) shieldings, i.e. using barriers, road enclosures or road decking and the like.

4.2.6 In order that the noise standards in Table 4.1 are met, noise levels can be established either by measurement or prediction. Predictions should be based on the designed traffic conditions and should take into consideration future (both committed and planned) as well as existing land uses. 

4.2.7 Predictions can be reliably based on the procedures given in the U.K. Department of Transport's "The Calculation of Road Traffic Noise". For application in Hong Kong, the road traffic noise is represented in terms of L10(1h) dB(A) for the hour having the peak traffic flow. For quick reference, the range of facade noise levels at receivers at 10m away from the kerb of the road having a direct line-of-sight of a level concrete road with 30% heavy vehicles at typical vehicular speeds are tabulated in Table 4.2.

Table 4.2 : Facade Noise Levels from Road Traffic

[ Simple Table Format ]

Peak hour
traffic flow
(veh/h)
Facade noise levels L10(1h), dB(A)
Vehicular speed (kph)
30 50 70 85 100
250 70 71 72 73 74
500 73 74 75 76 77
1 000 76 77 78 79 80
2 000 79 80 81 82 83
3 000 80 81 82 83 84
5 000 83 84 85 86 87
10 000 86 87 88 89 90


4.2.8 In order to facilitate a rough estimation of the likely road traffic noise levels at nearby sensitive land uses and to illustrate the noise reduction alternatives applicable to land use planning, two prediction examples are presented in Appendix 4.3. As a general guide, Table 4.3 gives the approximate separations required for achieving the noise standard for residential developments fronting various types of roads. For typical Hong Kong situations, the largest reduction would most likely be obtained by using noise tolerant buildings as screening structures, rather than by means of the separation between road and receiver.

Table 4.3 : Broad Guidelines of Separations Required between
Various Types of Roads and Residential Development

[ Simple Table Format ]

Road Type Assumptions Distance Separation to
meet L10(1h) 70dB(A)
Traffic flow (veh/h) Vehicular speed (kph) without screening with screening*
Trunk 5 000 70 approx. 300m approx. 50m
Primary Distributor 3 000 50 approx. 180m approx. 40m
District Distributor/
Local Distributor
2 000 50 approx. 120m approx. 30m

* under or about 45 o angle of view of receiver on road traffic

  Rail Traffic

4.2.9 Community reaction to rail noise depends largely on three factors: the maximum pass by noise level, the frequency of movement and the time of the noise events. In Hong Kong, where rapid rail cars inevitably pass through densely populated high-rises for most of the day, planning of new sensitive uses contiguous to existing rail lines and planning of new rail lines must take full cognizance of these factors.

4.2.10 In the process of planning, efforts should be made to ensure that the separation between the rail line and the development is such that the standard noise levels contained in Table 4.1 are not exceeded. As an indication, based on existing typical operational characteristics, the following horizontal separation from the edge of track to the facade of sensitive uses are required :

MTR - 150m (open form construction)
25m (the side parapets break the line of sight of the bogie)

KCR - 85m

LRT - 25m

However, since a number of operational characteristics (e.g. speed, frequency etc.) could affect the overall noise energy produced, advice from EPD should be sought if the rail operation is anticipated to be substantially different from the existing rail systems in terms of rail car characteristics, number of movements or operating speed.

4.2.11 In the absence of screening elements, large separations as shown in section 4.2.10 will be required to meet the rail noise standards in Table 4.1. Consideration should therefore be given to providing screening by means of track-side noise barriers, earth berms and noise tolerant buildings and the like. It should be noted that shielding is only effective if it breaks the line-of-sight from the window of a sensitive use to the rail sources. In the early planning stage, serious consideration should be given to integrating the railway lines into adjacent developments. In the case of rail depots, complete decking over of the railways and the depots would be the most effective means to reduce noise impact. Section 4.3.7 provides further details of integrated building design. 

4.2.12 Due to the diverse range of speeds over which the LRT is designed to operate, it is possible that in town centres, where the LRT is operated at a lower speed, the separation distance of 25m could be reduced. However, under those conditions, care must be taken to ensure that the problem of squeal noise does not occur. As a general rule, a radius of track curvature of less than 70 metres should be avoided.

Fixed Sources

4.2.13 Noise assessments will normally be conducted in accordance with the Technical Memorandum For The Assessment Of Noise From Places Other Than Domestic Premises, Public Places Or Construction Sites (TM), published under the Noise Control Ordinance. The TM lays down statutory Acceptable Noise Levels (ANL). However, in order to plan for a better environment, all fixed noise sources should be so located and designed that when assessed in accordance with the TM, the level of the intruding noise at the facade of the nearest sensitive use should be at least 5 dB(A) below the appropriate ANL shown in Table 3 of the TM or, in the case of the background being 5 dB(A) lower than the ANL, should not be higher than the background.

  Other Facilities

4.2.14 While specific noise level standards are not applicable for many of the noise emitters described in Appendix 4.1, noise should be a major consideration in determining their locations and site layout. Efforts should be made to ensure that the noise impact caused by these facilities will be minimised. Some of the general considerations to be taken during the planning stage are to:

(a) locate the facilities so that there is no line-of-sight of the noise sources at the noise sensitive uses; provide screening to the noise sources as far as possible by making use of natural landscape, embankment or noise tolerant buildings;

(b) avoid locating open-form major public transport termini in proximity to noise sensitive uses;

(c) consider adopting a complete podium decking over noisy facilities; and

(d) locate lairs and sidings away from noise sensitive uses and separate them with high solid barriers.

4.2.15 Where opportunity arises and having due regard to the operational requirements, the siting of facilities such as bus depots, lorry parks or petrol filling stations etc, should take into account the potential locations of ingress/egress and the consequent noise disturbances due to traffic routings, particularly during sensitive hours. Consideration should also be given to adopting administrative controls so that the degree of noise disturbances can be further reduced.

4.3 Guidelines to Reduce Noise Exposure

4.3.1 In situations where adequate separations between sensitive uses and noise emitters cannot be provided, the following methods, which are described in details in Sections 4.3.3 to 4.3.10, should find applications in the Hong Kong context :

(a) self-protecting building design and arrangement;

(b) integrated building and noise source design (e.g. decking over);

(c) purpose-built noise barriers; and

(d) acoustic insulation of buildings.

4.3.2 While detailed design of the applications should be left to the engineers or architects of the project, the feasibility of these measures should be considered in the planning stage to ensure that a certain site will not be so constrained as to preclude any reasonable and practical noise abatement design.

  Self-Protecting Building Design and Arrangement

4.3.3 The design and arrangement of buildings specifically adopted to shield noise sources often offer the most economical solution to noise problems and may involve no additional cost. This approach to noise problems is most relevant at the detailed stage of site planning and layout.

4.3.4 The aim is  for a small part of the building bulk, preferably with a noise tolerant use, to shield the rest. Guidance for preliminary design is provided by ray diagrams which indicate those parts of the development included in "shadow zones" (Figure 4.2). Buildings in the shadow zone will often be adequately protected from noise. The shaded area in Figure 4.2 will have their noise levels lowered by between 5 and 15 dB(A).

4.3.5 As Figure 4.2 indicates, the noise reduction is greater if the shielding building is placed closer to the noise source. This may also result in savings in land.

4.3.6 Internal building layout can also be effective in reducing noise exposure. Non-sensitive areas such as corridors, bathrooms, lifts, and the like can be used to shield sensitive areas. Suitably-designed buildings may be located where the noise standards for unprotected buildings are exceeded.

  Integrated Building-Noise Source Design

4.3.7 A building design which integrates the noise source (including those associated with transportation systems) within the development is most suitable in the Hong Kong context, where shortage of land and reliance on public transport render such a design very attractive. Good examples are comprehensive development on a podium above a railway station or a transport interchange. Both the railway and the major roadways could be substantially covered by the podium, thus reducing the noise reaching the developments above the podium. With careful design, noise tolerant structures, e.g. office blocks, multi-storey carparks or markets, can be located in noisier areas. Figures 4.3(a) and (b) illustrate the concept of integrated building design for road and rail systems. When decking over roadways and termini, the air quality aspect should also be addressed (see Section 3.3.8).

  Purpose-Built Noise Barriers

4.3.8 Barriers, in the form of earth berms or solid fences, can be built adjacent to noise sources such as roadways and railways. They can be effective in reducing noise when they prevent line-of-sight between the source and the receiver. However, the visual impact of the noise barrier should be considered and properly addressed. It is unlikely that they will have widespread applications in Hong Kong where high-rise buildings require protection. Their use should however be investigated in the following situations :

(a) where low-rise buildings are to be protected (e.g. in the New Territories);

(b) on urban flyovers and elevated roadways built very close to noise-sensitive uses and where extreme noise levels at the worst affected floors must be alleviated; and

(c) in passive recreation areas where earth berms may be incorporated into landscaping works.

4.3.9 There may be overriding constraints on the location and design of a development that prevent the guidelines in Sections 4.3.1 to 4.3.8 from being strictly followed. If compromise is necessary, attempt should still be made to maximise the proportion of dwellings protected, using the guidelines indicated in Sections 4.3.3 to 4.3.8. The rest of the remaining unprotected dwellings should be insulated using the guidelines described in the ensuing Section 4.3.10.

  Acoustic Insulation of Buildings

4.3.10 Acoustic insulation is often the "last-resort" in an attempt to abate noise disturbances because it will practically deprive the receiver of outdoor activities and an "open-window" life style. While acoustic insulation is commonly found in some western countries, the warm and humid climate in Hong Kong makes it very expensive for noise sensitive uses due to the need to provide air-conditioning for a "closed-window" environment. The suitable window types are shown in Appendix 4.4.

4.4 Guidelines for Developments in Rural Area

4.4.1 In planning any new development in rural areas, a more sensitive approach has to be taken in order to preserve the existing tranquil environment and the quality of life. As a general rule, any noise emitters introducing a fairly consistent excess of 10 dB(A) above the prevailing background should be avoided. If the noise emitters must be located in a rural setting, anti-noise design must be incorporated to reduce the noise impact. In most cases, this will involve the shielding of the sensitive use from the noise emitters by tunneling, cut and cover, barriers, enclosures, and acoustic design of noise emitters. In some cases, it may be necessary to impose restriction on operating hours.


5. Water Quality


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5.1 Policy Objectives

5.1.1 The Government's overall objectives for planning against water pollution are :

(a) to achieve and maintain the quality of inland waters, coastal waters, marine waters and ground waters so that they can be used for their legitimate purposes; e.g. bathing, other recreation, as a habitat for marine life, as a source for food or commercial fisheries, irrigation, navigation and shipping, etc. depending on the area;

(b) to provide adequate public sewerage, wastewater treatment and disposal facilities for all wastewaters; and

(c) to put in place and enforce water pollution control legislation aimed at safeguarding the health and welfare of the community.

5.1.2 In planning any new developments or redevelopments, the water quality constraints, summarised in Figure 5.1, should be considered as fully as possible. The main tidal streams and the topographically-confined waterbodies which may have limited dispersive and assimilative capacity for pollutant discharges are shown in Figure 5.1. Consideration must also be given to protecting listed Sites of Special Scientific Interest (see also Chapter 10 for locations of SSSIs) and other sensitive receivers such as water intakes, bathing beaches, fish culture zones, site of ecological sensitivity including marine parks and marine reserves.

5.1.3 In the preparation of Outline Zoning Plans, Development Permission Area Plans, Outline Development Plans and Layout Plans, effort should be made to:

(a) consider the requirements of the beneficial uses of the water body and check whether or not the proposed land uses are in conflict with the beneficial uses of the respective water control zone (WCZ);

(b) consider the implications of effluent standards and licensing restrictions on the type of land use that will be permitted and the extent of its development; and

(c) ensure adequate provision of suitable land and access for the necessary treatment and disposal facilities.

5.1.4 Appendix 5.1 presents the principal framework for planning against water pollution and a summary of potentially polluting and sensitive uses.

5.2 Guidelines for Potentially Polluting Uses

  Industry

5.2.1 Care is required in locating all effluent-producing industries. Overall water quality management constraints will be met more readily and with less expenditure on pollution control measures if the following guidelines are followed :

(a) preference should always be given to locating industries in areas served by public foul sewerage connected to public treatment facilities which have the capability for treating industrial sewage;

(b) industries producing effluents containing toxic materials (e.g. from fabricated metal processing etc.) such as cyanide, phenols and metals, must reduce these substances, by means of treatment or other waste reduction measures, to acceptably low concentrations. Industries producing only biodegradable effluents (e.g food processing, beverage etc.) will also be required to be treated to a satisfactory standard on-site. The acceptability of a discharge of effluent into the waters of Hong Kong is largely reliant on the capability of that waterbody to dilute and disperse any pollutants remaining in that effluent. This is necessary to ensure compliance with Water Quality Objectives defined in the Water Pollution Control Ordinance. It must be stressed that the inland waters of Hong Kong rarely, if ever, provide adequate and reliable dilution;

(c) care should be taken in locating those industries that produce certain substances which are normally prohibited in effluents. Adequate treatment and waste reduction or recycling will always be required to prevent the discharge of these substances, which include dioxins, polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), pesticides, radioactive substances, sludges, calcium carbide, petroleum oil or tar, and organic solvents;

(d) as a general guideline, industrial wastes should not be discharged to sewers unless the effluent discharge standard prescribed in the Technical Memorandum on Effluent Standards can be met. Wastes not meeting these standards require either pre-treatment before discharge to sewers or interim storage prior to treatment/disposal at appropriate licenced waste disposal facilities. In all cases, discharge of industrial wastes to stormwater drains is strictly prohibited;

(e) planners must take into account the needs of industrial establishments to have adequate space and access for on-site pre-treatment of wastewater before discharge into public sewers; and

(f) industries of the same category should ideally be spatially concentrated so that communal treatment facilities and any other special facilities that may be required can be furnished economically.

5.2.2 The provisions of the Water Pollution Control Ordinance (WPCO) apply to all discharges. Most of the industries likely to produce effluents are shown in Figure 2.2. Discharges from these industries need to be licensed by the Director of Environmental Protection and are required to abide by the conditions in the license.

5.2.3 For the control, treatment and disposal of toxic chemicals, refer to Section 6 on Waste Management.

  Sewage Collection and Disposal

5.2.4 Proper collection and treatment of sewage is a basic sanitation requirement to safeguard public health and environmental hygiene. Sewage disposal is therefore a major factor influencing water quality. Suitable disposal means should be chosen for individual circumstances to achieve the best protection to the public and environment:

(a) in general, public sewerage should be used as this is the most efficient and safe means;

(b) at locations where public sewerage is not available and population is more than 50 people, sewage treatment plants should be installed. They may be communal plant serving a number of premises or small plant serving individual premises; and

(c) for isolated premises with small number of occupants, septic tank and soakaway system can be adopted as long as the location is suitable for operation of the system.

5.2.5 Developments should be served by public sewerage and sewage treatment facilities as far as possible. Construction should be programmed such that sewerage facilities are commissioned before occupation of new developments. Where a public sewerage system exists, new developments should be so planned as to make the best use of the system. The impact on the public sewerage system arising from major developments should be properly assessed by way of Sewerage Impact Assessment (SIA). Proponents of major development should initiate and allow adequate time for SIA be carried out. Whether SIA is required or not should be advised by EPD on a case-by-case basis. 

5.2.6 In cases where connection of the new developments to public sewerage is not feasible, project proponent should put in place adequate sewage treatment facilities. Sewage treatment plants (STPs) should be designed such that their treated effluent meets statutory discharge standards. The STP discharge location should be properly selected taking into due consideration of the assimilative capacity of the receiving water bodies. In addition, discharge of treated effluent should be avoided in sensitive areas like gazetted beaches, typhoon shelters, marinas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Marine Fish Culture Zones. For STP discharge location within water gathering grounds, reference should be made to Section 5.3.13. For major STPs causing unacceptable impact on the receiving waters, the effluent may be conveyed for discharge into other suitable water bodies. 

5.2.7 STPs should also be suitably sited and designed so as not to cause nuisance to the nearby residents or pollution to the environment, including odour, noise and safety impacts. The siting considerations include good buffering distance from residential dwellings, aesthetical shielding or physical enclosure, and designated area or demarcating fencing for the STP. Provisions may also be allowed for possible reuse of treated effluent from the plants. The design of small sewage treatment plants (serving population below 2 000) should make reference to EPD's "Guidelines for the Design of Small Sewage Treatment Plants"

5.2.8 Septic tank and soakaway systems may also be considered for small rural populations resided in locations suitable for operation of the system. These include areas where there are sufficient space between houses, low ground water table, ample distance from retaining walls, wells, streams, pools, beaches and slopes, and adequate soil percolation capacity. The design of septic tank and soakaway systems should make reference to EPD's Practice Note for Professional Person (ProPECC) PN 5/93 "Drainage Plans subject to Comment by the Environmental Protection Department". Use of septic tank and soakaway systems within water gathering grounds should be avoided (please refer to section 5.3.13). Supporting facilities such as vehicular access should be provided to facilitate proper operation and maintenance of both sewage treatment plant and septic tank and soakaway systems.

  Civil Engineering Infrastructure and Operation

5.2.9 This category of potentially polluting uses and activities includes reclamation, dredging, dredged spoil disposal, landfills, man-made lagoons, potentially hazardous installations, bulk chemical stores, roads, port facilities, dams and comparable permanent structures, well boring, site investigation work, excavation of fill from sources on land or the sea bed, drainage works, river training and the construction phases of major works. The main concern is pollution caused by silt, oil and floating refuse while work is in progress, but some works, especially reclamation from the sea, road construction and fill excavation, may have long term effects on drainage, siltation and pollution. Care should be taken in planning and implementation of works to avoid, minimise or ameliorate the occurrence of these adverse effects on water bodies, especially those in:

(a) unspoilt areas designated for conservation and in Sites of Special Scientific Interest;

(b) areas which already suffer some degree of pollution, where there is a risk that any additional environmental stress will result in adverse ecological changes; and

(c) areas used for commercial fisheries including fish culture and shellfish cultivation, or for contact recreation, including both primary (e.g. bathing) and secondary recreation (e.g. canoeing, sailing etc.).

5.2.10 Reclamation and watercourse training projects, and extraction of marine sand as a source of fill involve extensive dredging activities. As dredging, produces considerable disturbance in the environment, the necessary measures to minimise adverse effects include the avoidance of dredging; the carrying out of assessment studies prior to the commencement of operations; the selection of management strategies, dredging method and machinery to minimise the impact on aquatic life, particularly in the vicinity of commercial fisheries and aquaculture operations; the control over the timing of the operations to prevent interruption of the sensitive uses in affected areas; and the monitoring of water quality prior to and during dredging activities.

5.2.11 If not required as fill the dredged material may normally be transported to and deposited at gazetted marine dumping grounds or sites approved by the EPD. Considerations should be given to minimise dredging and hence the quantity of dredged material required to be disposed of so as not to overstress the available capacity of the existing, committed or planned marine dumping grounds. Dumping of spoil at sea, even within a gazetted mud disposal area is only allowed under the conditions of a permit issued by EPD in accordance with the Dumping at Sea Ordinance. On no account should any material be dumped directly into an inland watercourse. Particular care must be taken in cases where the dredged material may be contaminated in any way.

5.2.12 All reclamations will affect water flow patterns. Before proceeding with any reclamation proposal, the effects on hydrography and water quality must be fully investigated by computer modelling or other suitable techniques. Care should be taken by those involved in planning reclamation work to avoid the creation of enclosed or stagnant pools of water during the reclamation stage, which may be susceptible to pollution.

  Transport Facilities

5.2.13 As bus depots involve the construction, repair and maintenance of buses, significant amount of wastes and wastewater can be produced. Adequate space should be provided for appropriate facilities for the collection, storage and disposal of wastes and wastewater. Consideration needs to be given to the provision of adequate space for waste and wastewater collection and disposal facilities, arising from the operations of petrol filling stations and ferry terminals.

5.3 Guidelines for Sensitive Uses

  Bathing Waters and Other Contact Recreational Facilities

5.3.1 Where the provision of bathing waters involves construction of an enclosed area or artificial lagoon, or where waterside recreational facilities are to be provided, care must be taken to ensure that the design of the facility provides for adequate flushing with clean water and that polluted surface waters are diverted away from the bathing areas.

5.3.2 Permissible standards for effluents must be consistent with the Water Quality Objective for Bathing Beach Subzones. No new discharge outlet, either storm or foul drain, nor any soakaway pit for effluent disposal should be located within 100m of the boundaries of any gazetted beach in any direction, including rivers and streams (Figure 5.1).

  Aquaculture and Fisheries

5.3.3 Mariculture is allowed under licence only in designated Fish Culture Zones (Figure 5.1) and must comply with the conditions laid down in the Marine Fish Culture Ordinance.

5.3.4 Marine Fish Culture Zones, fresh water fish ponds, oyster beds, fish nursery and spawning grounds and other marine culture resources require pollution-free environments. Good water quality should therefore be maintained in these locations. Care should be taken to prevent or minimise pollution from discharges which may be carried by tides, currents or natural watercourses into these sites, even from relatively remote locations. No new effluent will be allowed within 200m of the seaward boundaries and 100m of the landward boundaries of a marine fish culture zone.

5.3.5 Fish Culture Zones, if not planned and operated properly, can cause considerable pollution on a local scale. Pollutants, arising from surplus fish feed and fish faecal matter easily accumulate on the seabed. Fish Culture Zones should therefore be located in areas with good water circulation where the pollutants can be readily dispersed. To further minimise pollution, habitation of the rafts in the zone should be strictly prohibited. Adequate supporting infrastructure including means of access (e.g. roads or piers), toilets and waste collection and disposal facilities should be provided for the proper collection, treatment and disposal of waste generated in the Fish Culture Zone.

  Agriculture

5.3.6 Abstraction of water and discharge of effluents should not be carried out in a manner that will cause detrimental effects on downstream agricultural uses.

  Residential and Recreational Development

5.3.7 Residential and recreational developments, including urban recreational space, should preferably be located away from stagnant waters where pollutants might accumulate and give rise to nuisance. Where polluted water bodies might affect such developments, the first objective must be the removal of the sources of pollution. Further remedial measures, such as dry weather flow diversion, dredging and aeration may also be required to eliminate nuisance. All buildings should be provided with sewage treatment facilities or be connected to a sewer.

5.3.8 If it is envisaged that substantial improvement in water quality in existing pollution black spots cannot be attained in the near future, residential and recreational development should be located sufficiently far away from the polluted water body so that the nuisance from water pollution will not adversely affect the residents.

  Typhoon Shelters, Marinas and Boat Parks

5.3.9 The location and configuration of typhoon shelters, marinas or boat parks should be planned in such a way as to ensure adequate flushing and good water exchange between the water bodies inside and outside the shelter, marina or boat park. Hydraulic modelling tests will usually be required to ensure that the design provides adequate flushing in the whole of the typhoon shelter, marina or boat park and that no stagnant water is created by the development.

5.3.10 Typhoon shelters, marinas and boat parks should not be located in areas with poor water quality. They should either be located at sufficient distance from sewage and storm water outfalls or they should be designed in such a way that the discharge plumes of these outfalls are not carried into the typhoon shelter, marina or boat park. Existing outfalls and storm drains should be diverted to discharge away from any new typhoon shelter, marina or boat park. If the diversion of existing storm drains is not feasible, alternative sites should be found.

5.3.11 No discharges from new sewage outfalls, storm water outfalls or nullahs should be allowed to drain into a typhoon shelter, marina or boat park (Figure 5.1). 

5.3.12 Adequate shore-based utilities including toilets and waste collection and disposal facilities must be provided for the proper collection, treatment and disposal of waste. No waste should be dumped directly into the typhoon shelter, marina or boat park. Effluent discharges from the utilities in the shelters, marinas or boat parks should meet the established guidelines for effluent control.

  Water Gathering Grounds

5.3.13 Developments within the water gathering grounds (WGG) (Figure 5.1) are strictly controlled by the Water Supplies Department. Planning of development or projects to be located inside or near the WGG should follow guidelines laid down by Water Supplies Department. Because of the importance of protecting such water resource from pollution, all developments within the WGG should be connected to public sewerage. If public sewerage is not available, sewage treatment plant should be provided. Discharge from the sewage treatment plant will have to comply with discharge standards for Group A inland waters as specified in the Technical Memorandum on Effluent Standard drawn up under the Water Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 1990. Use of septic tank/soakaway systems should be avoided.

  Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

5.3.14 These areas should be adequately protected from the effects of pollution and from the diversion of natural flows. Reference should be made to HKPSG Chapter 10 - Conservation.

  Natural Streams/Rivers

5.3.15 Development should preferably be located away from any natural streamcourse.


6. Waste Management


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6.1 Policy Objectives

6.1.1 The Government's overall objectives for waste management planning are to ensure :

(a) the promotion of sustainable approach to waste management, in which we produce less waste and reuse or recover value from waste;

(b) the adequate provision of facilities for cost-effective and environmentally satisfactory disposal of all wastes; and

(c) the availability of and proper enforcement of legislation on storage, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of wastes, to safeguard the health and welfare of the community from any adverse environmental effects.

6.1.2 Appendix 6.1 presents the principal framework for waste management and a summary of waste reception/transfer facilities and uses with special requirements for waste management.

6.2 Standards and Guidelines for Waste Reception and Transfer Facilities

6.2.1 Waste reception and transfer facilities should be sited so that any adjacent development is very well buffered. Provisions should be made in the building configuration to allow for the separation and recovery of recyclables. For facilities handling the reception and disposal of dusty or odoriferous wastes, special precautions should be taken to avoid nuisance to surrounding areas. Note should be taken of prevailing wind direction and subsequent potential for nuisance.

  Refuse Transfer Stations

6.2.2 A refuse transfer station (RTS) provides a regional and sub-regional destination for unloading of refuse collection vehicles, where the waste is containerised for haulage in bulk to a final disposal facility. A RTS aims primarily at reducing the cost of transporting waste and minimising environmental nuisance by better containment of waste. Consideration should be given to providing such a facility for handling 500 - 2 000 tonnes a day of waste in the Urban Area, equivalent to 500 000 - 2 million population, or 100 - 1 000 tonnes in the NT, equivalent to 100 000 - 1 million population. A site area of between 1 and 2 hectares is required for each such facility.

6.2.3 A RTS should be centrally located in the waste catchment it serves, preferably on the water front, with barge access. To minimise incompatibility with adjacent sensitive land uses, a RTS should be sited in an industrial or other non-sensitive area or, if possible, underground. Sufficient space should be provided for reception and queuing of refuse collection vehicles (RCVs). Short vehicular access from and to major transport routes is preferred, to avoid traffic congestion and delays to RCVs. The adequacy of adjoining road capacities for the RCVs should be determined. Considerations should be given to the provision of fully enclosed stations and/or suitable barriers for odour and dust control. Adequate control measures should be provided to minimise the impacts and may include provisions for noise control of the machinery and the structure, leachate treatment/disposal systems and installation of air/exhaust cleaning systems.

  Construction Waste Management Facilities

6.2.4 Disposal outlets for construction waste, either in the form of public filling barging points or public filling areas, C&D materials sorting facilities, fill banks or similar construction waste management facilities, should be provided to facilitate the use or proper disposal of these materials and to reduce the temptation to illegal dumping. The aim is to ensure that suitably located outlets serving particular catchments are available throughout the territory. Pollution control measures should be provided to prevent spillage of material during unloading, to suppress dust blow and wind blown litter, to minimise noise from all plant, to prevent waste, soil and debris from being washed off the site or into the sea and to restrict working hours.

6.2.5 The provision of construction waste management facilities must give due regard to their proper siting, the timing of implementation and the required pollution control measures. These facilities will require sea frontage, good road access and sufficient space for reception and queuing of waste-carrying vehicles within the site. Wherever practicable, they should be located in industrial or other non-sensitive land uses.

  Refuse Collection Points

  Provision in Urban and New Town Areas

6.2.6 A refuse collection point (RCP) is required to serve the needs of each population of 20 000 persons or areas within a distance of 500 metres. In industrial and commercial areas, or in areas where adequate private facilities are or will be available, this level of provision may need to be adjusted to suit anticipated needs. Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene should be consulted on detailed requirements.

6.2.7 For road safety reasons, new RCPs should be planned to allow head-in and head-out movements of refuse collection vehicles (RCVs). A gross site area of not less than 294m2 (with a minimum width of 14m) is required in the case of island or corner sites. For hemmed-in or gap sites, a gross site area ranging from 405m2 to 594m2 (with a minimum width of 27m) will be required. The former can accommodate conventional RCVs only whereas the latter can cater for both conventional and tractor/trailer RCV. Where a large gap site is provided to cater for tractor/trailer RCV head-in and head-out movement, an area in the region of 150m2 may be excised for other compatible uses if identified. The site requirements for different classes of site and types of RCV are illustrated in Figure 6.1.

6.2.8 Although reversing movements of RCVs should normally not be allowed for road safety reasons, due consideration should be given to the land constraints in certain areas and cost implication of providing standard sites. In such areas, sites which only allow back-in and head-out movements of RCVs could be considered for RCPs provided that they are located on minor roads having relatively low vehicular and pedestrian flows. In this case, a smaller site with an area of not less than 220m2 (11m frontage and 20m deep), as shown in Figure 6.1, will suffice. However, it should be stressed that the selection of the smaller sites for RCPs should be regarded as the exception rather than the rule. The Transport Department should be consulted.

6.2.9 The gross site area and dimensions specified are the minimum operational requirements to accommodate both conventional and tractor/trailer RCVs. Should specific configuration and physical conditions of an individual site dictate, or should other government/institution/ community facilities be required to be incorporated on upper floor, the site requirements may have to be adjusted to suit special design and layout. In general, suitable material recovery areas should be set aside in the RCPs.

  Provision in Rural Areas and Remote Villages

6.2.10 In rural areas or remote villages which are characterised by wide geographical spread and scant population, standard village-type RCPs and bin sites are the basic provision. Standard village-type RCPs each measuring from 9.4m x 6.4m (about 60m2) to 10.9m x 6.4m (about 70m2) depending on operational needs should be provided to serve one or more adjoining villages up to a maximum population of about 1 000 persons. They should be conveniently located so that collection by RCVs can be effected from either a lay-by or a designated parking space without causing undue obstruction to other road users. Additional RCPs should be provided to clusters of settlements at the rate of one RCP per 1 000 of population or part thereof. Village-type RCPs and bin sites should also be provided to those less-remote village development areas of the new towns where the previously noted provision for urban and new town areas may not be applicable. Bin sites, wherever appropriate, should be provided in close proximity to refuse-generating sources depending on land availability and accessibility to vehicles. In general, suitable material recovery areas should be set aside in the RCPs.

  General Locational and Design Guidelines

6.2.11 RCPs should be sited so as to minimise disruption to traffic or the creation of traffic safety hazards. RCPs should therefore not be located on trunk or primary distributor roads, on steep roads, or locations where turning trucks may create traffic problems.

6.2.12 Adequate provision of off-street (enclosed) parking of bulk collection vehicles and separate access for the public and private refuse collectors should be provided where appropriate.

6.2.13 The location and design of RCPs should aim to minimise nuisance to the public and people living and working nearby, where appropriate, by enclosing the whole facility and, if necessary, through the provision of odour control equipment and ventilation. Water points should be a minimum requirement for all RCPs for regular cleaning purpose. For new, purpose-built RCPs which allow entry of RCVs, design features such as air/exhaust cleaning, high-pressure water cleaning and leachate drainage and disposal should be incorporated. Architectural design of RCPs should also incorporate landscaping wherever possible as visual screening to and as a buffer from adjacent sensitive land uses. Every possible effort should be made to replace all existing on-street RCPs.

6.2.14 Due to the difficulties in finding suitable sites for RCPs especially in the built-up areas, RCPs should be incorporated in large-scale developments and redevelopments of both public and private sectors, wherever possible. To reduce the need for waste handling and minimise potential nuisance problems, appropriate waste collection and handling facilities should be included in these large-scale developments and redevelopments in future.

  Provision in Public Housing Estates

6.2.15 Whilst the above standards and guidelines are related to provision of RCPs in urban, new town and rural areas, they do not apply to public housing estates which are subject to separate provision standard and design criteria for refuse collection. The major provision of refuse collection in public housing estates include:

(a) Refuse Storage and Material Recovery Chamber (RS & MRC) shall be provided in each domestic block to meet sufficient daily operational requirements for the total number of flats in the block pursuant to Building Regulations, Chapter 123H of Buildings Ordinance for the minimum floor space of RS & MRC.

(b) Optional provision of Refuse Storage & Material Recovery Room (RS &MRRs) at Typical Floor : providing sufficient daily storage and material recovery facilities. Details of typical layouts and minimum dimension for RS & MRRs are shown in Figure 6.2.

(c) Refuse Collection Point: an enclosed structure to provide sufficient daily storage for the total number of flats in the estate where refuse is collected by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).

  Block to Block Collection Option: where the site dictates the RCVs would have direct access to individual buildings across clearly defined vehicular routes, with either a lay-by or turning circle in a cul-de-sac situation provided adjacent to the RS & MRCs. This option, which will cause nuisance to the public and the estate tenants living nearby, is to be adopted in exceptional cases only, e.g. the site topography is such as to make it impossible for a RCP to be provided to serve two or more blocks.

(d) Junk Collection Points: a separate storage area for those items which cannot be handled by the normal refuse collection service. 

6.2.16 All refuse storage and material recovery facilities should be sheltered from weather.

6.2.17 An independent junk collection point will be provided for large commercial centre with a wet market.

6.2.18 In all cases, the access route for RCVs in public housing estates should be clearly defined by suitable choice of materials and colours, use of pavement kerbs and/or landscape features to differentiate the vehicular access from the pedestrian areas of the estate.

  Provision of Refuse Collection Facilities in Private Domestic, Non-domestic, Industrial and Composite Building Developments 

6.2.19 The provision of refuse storage and material recovery chambers/rooms and requirement on the associated mechanical ventilation and air-purifying facilities in private domestic, non-domestic, industrial and composite building developments should comply with the Building (Refuse Storage and Material Recovery Chambers and Refuse Chutes) Regulations which came into effect on 1 November 2000. Under these regulations, the minimum floor space requirements for refuse storage and material recovery chambers and the need to provide vehicular access are specified according to the scale of development. The FEHD may stipulate certain terms and conditions regarding the removal of household waste from premises under the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulation.

6.2.20 A Refuse Storage & Material Recovery Chamber (RS & MRC) should be provided at ground floor or basement for refuse storage and material recovery activities including sorting and storage of recovered materials. The floor space and vehicular access requirements of RS & MRCs under the Building (Refuse Storage and Material Recovery Chambers and Refuse Chutes) Regulations are summarised in Table 6.1. For domestic or composite building development with a total usable floor space (UFS) of 13 200m2 or more, and non-domestic building development with a total UFS of 39 600m2 or more, vehicular access to refuse storage and material recovery chamber will be required with adequate ingress and egress for a refuse collection vehicle customarily used by the collection authority. This would facilitate refuse collection to be carried out within the development to minimise environmental nuisance. For small scale developments, household waste will be hauled to a nearby refuse collection point serving a wider area, which will then be collected by refuse collection vehicles.

6.2.21 Optional provision of refuse storage and material recovery facilities could be made at each floor. One option is to provide a Refuse Storage & Material Recovery Room (RS & MRR) at each floor and the minimum area of the room are as follows:

(a) the Room should not have any dimension less than 1.5m (i.e. the size of such room should not be less than 2.25m2).

(b) the height, measured to the ceiling, of every room should not be less than 2m.

  The area requirements of the RS & MRR do not include the area for the installation of refuse chute and other associated facilities. However, if refuse chute or other associated facilities are required, it should preferably be placed within the RS & MRR or at its proximity so as to enhance separation of recyclables before disposal into the refuse chute. Details of typical layouts and minimum dimensions for RS & MRRs are shown in Figure 6.2.

6.2.22 Requirements on mechanical ventilation and air purifying facilities are given in the “Practice Note for Authorised Persons and Registered Structural Engineers (PNAP 98)” issued by the Buildings Department.

6.2.23 Where Automated Refuse Collection System is adopted, provisions should be made to allow for separation and recovery of recyclables.

6.2.24 Detailed requirements for refuse storage and material recovery chambers/rooms may be updated from time to time and reference should be made to the latest version of the Building (Refuse Storage and Material Recovery Chambers and Refuse Chutes) Regulations and associated Practice Notes.

6.3 Guidelines for Industries with Special Requirements for Waste Disposal

  Chemical Waste Producing Industries

6.3.1 These industries should be located in either industrial buildings within designated industrial areas or more preferably within specific purpose-built buildings with communal waste storage and/or treatment facilities; and they must comply with the requirements of the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation.

6.3.2 Where industrial buildings are intended to accommodate chemical waste producing industries, special requirements for access and space associated with the storage, treatment, and/or collection of waste should be considered. Such requirements will generally include:

(a) provision of suitable on-site treatment facilities and collection systems;

(b) provision of adequate facilities for the interim storage of chemical wastes and for their collection and transport by licensed waste collectors to off-site treatment and disposal facilities. Such provisions can include sufficient containers for temporary waste storage, designated storage areas with impermeable floors and bunding to prevent waste leakage and spillage and appropriate design of equipment for the safe handling of waste. Storage area requirements should be based on discharge patterns or arising frequency of the wastes and must consider the necessity for separate storage of incompatible wastes. In general, 2 to 5% usable floor area in each floor should be allocated for interim storage of chemical wastes, along with a loading bay with direct access to a goods lift. Alternatively, 2 to 5% of gross floor area of the building should be provided on a single floor for the joint use of all tenants;

(c) storage of chemical wastes classified as Dangerous Goods (DG) must comply with the requirements of the Dangerous Gods Ordinance; and

(d) sufficient off-street parking space for chemical waste collection vehicles as appropriate.

  Offensive Trades

6.3.3 Offensive trade activities require a licence granted by the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene and must comply with the conditions laid down in the Offensive Trades Regulation. In general, offensive trades should be located in purpose-built industrial buildings with sufficient ventilation and adequate facilities to control and dispose of any noxious wastes or effluents. Drainage openings should be fitted with removable galvanised gratings or refuse traps and where appropriate, grease traps should be provided.

6.3.4 Industrial buildings housing offensive trades should be well buffered from nearby sensitive uses. Usually, a buffer distance of at least 200m is required to minimise potential odour nuisance.

  Livestock Rearing

6.3.5 Livestock premises located in statutory Control Areas must comply with the requirements of the Waste Disposal (Livestock Waste) Regulations. Precautions should be taken to prevent any nuisance or annoyance to the public and any pollution to watercourses and water gathering grounds within the meaning of the Waterworks Ordinance.

6.3.6 Adequate provision for the temporary storage of livestock waste in properly designed and constructed containers should be made. Where livestock waste is to be used for composting on livestock premises, properly constructed areas or enclosures should be provided. In order to prevent potential pollution of water gathering grounds, soakaway pits must be located not less than 30m from any reservoir, saline waters, spring, watercourse or well for potable use.

6.4 Guidelines for Community Facilities with Special Requirements for Waste Disposal

6.4.1 When planning these community facilities, allowance should be made for adequate space provision for the storage, collection and disposal of solid wastes. This should be in the form of a refuse storage area on the ground floor or any floor with direct vehicular access. The area should be close to the goods lift and there should be adequate provision for off-street vehicular access for loading of refuse collection vehicles. The refuse storage and material recovery chambers should be built to similar standards as those required for residential developments under the Building (Refuse Storage and Material Recovery Chambers and Refuse Chutes) Regulations. Regarding locational guidelines, reference should be made to Section 6.2.

  Slaughterhouses

6.4.2 Slaughterhouses should include adequate waste treatment facilities to handle all waste forms generated. These should include treatment facilities for carcasses, condemned meat, blood, skin, offals, grease, stomach content, nails, hair and waste water. There should be a separation of waste water sewerage from storm water sewerage.

  Markets and Cooked Food Stalls

6.4.3 Many of the wastes produced by these facilities are highly putrescible. Adequate refuse storage area should be provided and located so as to minimise potential nuisance to the public and people living and working nearby. Animal carcasses, commonly generated by the activities within these facilities, should be segregated from other waste streams and separate temporary storage and collection facilities be provided. The facilities should preferably be confined in covered areas and grease traps should be provided to prevent the chokage of sewers.

  Hospitals/Clinics

6.4.4 All clinical wastes should be separately collected from other municipal wastes. All clinical wastes must be disposed of in facilities as designated by the Authority.

6.5 Guidelines for Developments close to Landfills

6.5.1 Figure 6.3 shows the locations of operating and closed landfills. Landfills, whether closed or still in operation, may give rise to hazards in nearby land uses due to lateral migration of landfill gas (LFG). Landfill gas has the potential to cause asphyxiation, fire or explosion as it migrates into and accumulates in confined air spaces during excavation and foundation work, basement construction and maintenance of drains or other underground services. Other susceptible locations include site huts, basements and similar poorly ventilated enclosures that exist during construction and in completed buildings.

6.5.2 Building developments and community facilities should be sited away from landfills. The level of hazards depends on such factors as the existence of gas control systems and barriers, the landfill site configuration, local geological conditions and building configurations of the development. In some overseas cases, landfill gas was reported to have migrated hundreds of metres away from the landfill sites. If buildings are to be developed close to landfills, features such as confined spaces at ground level, basements and other underground spaces should be avoided. The design of podium would require special attention to ensure sufficient ventilation. These developments close to landfills should incorporate adequate monitoring measures and safety precaution measures. EPD should be notified at the earliest planning stage of such development so that the necessary controls are agreed upon before work proceeds.

6.5.3 For the purpose of protecting the development from the potential hazards of landfill gas migration, an evaluation of the risks posed by landfill gas is required for any development which is proposed within the 250m "Consultation Zone". The Consultation Zone represents the area of land surrounding the landfill boundary as defined by a line, running parallel to and 250m away from the edge of the waste if this can be identified or, if not the recognized landfill site boundary. Plans of landfill sites showing the extent of Consultation Zones are attached in Annex A of EPD's publication “Landfill Gas Hazard Assessment - Guidance Note" is available at EPD's website at www.epd.gov.hk (see Environmental Standards and Guidelines - Non-statutory). 

6.5.4 Guidance for the evaluation of risks associated with landfill gas is contained in the "Landfill Gas Hazard Assessment - Guidance Note" issued by the Director of Environmental Protection. Development proponents should initiate and allow adequate time for Landfill Gas Hazard Assessment be carried out. 


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  2005 Copyright Important notices  Last revision date : October 2015