Ventilation guidelines rejected as useless

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am

New advice for developers aimed at encouraging air flow and ventilation in built-up areas were issued by the government yesterday.

But the voluntary guidelines were swiftly dismissed by conservation groups as offering little help to improve the environment.

Their comments came after the Planning Department said it had added the recommendations to its planning standards and guidelines for urban design, encouraging developers to carry out feasibility studies for air ventilation when they plan projects.

The guidelines include varying the height of buildings, widening streets along the prevailing wind direction and providing more open, green areas.

The department said that as one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with hot and humid summers, Hong Kong needed more wind to provide relief and comfort in built-up areas.

But Conservancy Association chief executive Lister Cheung Lai-ping said the guidelines would be useless as they were only voluntary.

'It appears to me that the government is simply trying to show to the community that something has been done to protect the environment because the topic has become a hot issue lately,' Ms Cheung said.

Green Power's head of scientific research and conservation, Cheng Luk-ki, said the guidelines were better than nothing but might not be practical for developers.

'For example, developers have to fulfil a lot of other requirements in their designs, such as noise control, and they will not want to sacrifice the plot ratio ... even if they try to provide better air ventilation in the neighbourhood,' he said.

'Also, improving air ventilation alone cannot make the whole environment more comfortable. There are many heat sources, such as vehicles and air conditioners, as well as some building materials, such as glass, which also increase the temperature in urban areas.'