Air-quality boost in next two years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2000, 12:00am

Air quality is expected to improve over the next two years as more old diesel taxis are replaced with cabs running on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), environmental chiefs said yesterday.

Secretary for Environment and Food Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying said the Government would continue to seek land suitable for building LPG refilling stations as more drivers joined the LPG taxi scheme in the next couple of years.

'We will continue to lease out land at no land premium for building LPG refilling stations. The oil companies also agree in principle to add LPG refilling facilities at a dozen of their fuel stations,' said Mrs Yam. 'By doing so, we expect air quality to improve in one or two years' time.'

A new LPG refilling station operated by Hong Kong & China Gas was opened yesterday. The Eco-Station in Ngo Cheung Road on the West Kowloon reclamation area near Yau Ma Tei can handle up to 200 taxis an hour.

The station forms part of a plan to achieve refilling capacity for up to 8,000 LPG taxis by the end of the year. Alfred Chan Wing-kin, managing director of the company, said the station had attracted high demand from taxis.

According to a poll conducted by the gas company, most drivers said they could save an average of $50 at each refilling, as fuel at dedicated LPG stations is cheaper.

The Government hopes breathable suspended particles will be cut by 70 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 20 per cent in the next two years. So far, about 2,500 taxis out of 18,000 have switched to LPG and the rest are expected to follow in the next two years.

The Government has also started to pay owners of diesel vehicles to install particulate traps, and about 1,100 vehicles have already done so. The Environmental Protection Department has also been collecting data to monitor changes in the total vehicle emissions that account for most of the SAR's air pollution.

But Dr Man Chi-sum, chief executive officer of Green Power, said it was too early to say if such measures could improve air quality in the coming months.

'It might take years to see an improvement or we might never see any because we will also be affected by cross-border pollution,' he said.

Dr Man urged the Government to put more effort into reducing emissions from buses by restructuring overlapping routes in urban areas.


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