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postgraduate thesis: An exploratory study of public engagement in Hong Kong's environmental impact assessment process

TitleAn exploratory study of public engagement in Hong Kong's environmental impact assessment process
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Wong, C. [黃智聰]. (2015). An exploratory study of public engagement in Hong Kong's environmental impact assessment process. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5558955
AbstractBased on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance enacted in 1998, the EIA process in Hong Kong has been well-known for its approaches on public engagement. Problems, however, emerged after years of implementation regarding its capability to integrate public’s views into the assessment and decision-making processes, and to minimise potential conflicts among stakeholders. These challenges include, but not limited to, criticisms on the operation of EIA process and the inclusion of public inputs on assessment methods. It results in contentious relationships between the government and some members of the public. As there are very few studies which can offer an in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the EIA process in Hong Kong with special reference to its public engagement process, this study attempts to fill this research gap by investigating the strengths and weaknesses of the provisions and practices of the engagement process based on recent events and cases. Through interviews with experienced stakeholders and practitioners, and the examination of the evolution of the engagement process and the associated public responses, this study has identified several achievements of the Hong Kong system, namely an increased motivation of project proponents to involve the public, enhanced information and engagement provisions during the stages of pre-and post-EIA decision. The relevant provisions, however, are constrained by implementation issues, the one-way interaction approach and the absence of social impact assessment, resulting in its inability to handle public demands. In addition to an overview of the process, both pre-decision and post-decision stages of the EIA process have also been examined. The study has focused on the issues of using judicial review for challenging EIA decisions, and the adoption of Community Liaison Groups (CLGs)as a means for public engagement in the EIA follow-up process. CLGs for West Island Line and Hong Kong Offshore Wind Farm in Southeastern Waters are used as case examples to illustrate the merits and implementation challenges, and the controversies emerged in the operation of CLGs. Despite the growing motivation of both project proponents and the authority to engage the public, this study argues that the recent active public responses to the public engagement in Hong Kong’s EIA process has been attributable to the expending gulf between the authority and the public on their expectation of the function of EIA as the latter is experiencing a rapid growth of environmental awareness. On the other hand, it is believed that EIA has been used by some members of the public as “Window Opportunity” for putting forward their objections concerning wider social and political issues. It could therefore be concluded that the EIA process in Hong Kong has experienced both structural deficiencies and strong pressure from the community to influence relevant decisions.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectEnvironmental impact analysis - China - Hong Kong - Public opinion
Dept/ProgramGeography
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/227904

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorWong, Chi-chung-
dc.contributor.author黃智聰-
dc.date.accessioned2016-07-22T23:18:05Z-
dc.date.available2016-07-22T23:18:05Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationWong, C. [黃智聰]. (2015). An exploratory study of public engagement in Hong Kong's environmental impact assessment process. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5558955-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/227904-
dc.description.abstractBased on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance enacted in 1998, the EIA process in Hong Kong has been well-known for its approaches on public engagement. Problems, however, emerged after years of implementation regarding its capability to integrate public’s views into the assessment and decision-making processes, and to minimise potential conflicts among stakeholders. These challenges include, but not limited to, criticisms on the operation of EIA process and the inclusion of public inputs on assessment methods. It results in contentious relationships between the government and some members of the public. As there are very few studies which can offer an in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the EIA process in Hong Kong with special reference to its public engagement process, this study attempts to fill this research gap by investigating the strengths and weaknesses of the provisions and practices of the engagement process based on recent events and cases. Through interviews with experienced stakeholders and practitioners, and the examination of the evolution of the engagement process and the associated public responses, this study has identified several achievements of the Hong Kong system, namely an increased motivation of project proponents to involve the public, enhanced information and engagement provisions during the stages of pre-and post-EIA decision. The relevant provisions, however, are constrained by implementation issues, the one-way interaction approach and the absence of social impact assessment, resulting in its inability to handle public demands. In addition to an overview of the process, both pre-decision and post-decision stages of the EIA process have also been examined. The study has focused on the issues of using judicial review for challenging EIA decisions, and the adoption of Community Liaison Groups (CLGs)as a means for public engagement in the EIA follow-up process. CLGs for West Island Line and Hong Kong Offshore Wind Farm in Southeastern Waters are used as case examples to illustrate the merits and implementation challenges, and the controversies emerged in the operation of CLGs. Despite the growing motivation of both project proponents and the authority to engage the public, this study argues that the recent active public responses to the public engagement in Hong Kong’s EIA process has been attributable to the expending gulf between the authority and the public on their expectation of the function of EIA as the latter is experiencing a rapid growth of environmental awareness. On the other hand, it is believed that EIA has been used by some members of the public as “Window Opportunity” for putting forward their objections concerning wider social and political issues. It could therefore be concluded that the EIA process in Hong Kong has experienced both structural deficiencies and strong pressure from the community to influence relevant decisions.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshEnvironmental impact analysis - China - Hong Kong - Public opinion-
dc.titleAn exploratory study of public engagement in Hong Kong's environmental impact assessment process-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5558955-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineGeography-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5558955-

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