Public to get a say on idling-engines ban
A long-awaited consultation on banning idling engines will be launched next week, the environment minister announced yesterday.
Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah told legislators that though it was a controversial issue, the public appeared to be moving towards a consensus.
'We plan to consult the public by the end of next week,' Mr Yau said, adding that legislation would follow. He said earlier this month that the consultation would be finished by the end of this year.
Drivers who leave vehicles with engines running can be fined up to HK$2,000, but it is legal to leave an engine idling in a stationary vehicle if the driver remains inside.
Green groups have long urged the government to crack down on the practice, saying vehicle and vessel emissions caused much of the locally produced air pollution.
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said in his chief executive election platform in February that legislation should require motorists to switch off their engines while waiting.
He added, however: 'The prospective legislation may require motorists to switch off vehicle engines at particular hours and in particular zones.'
The green group Clear the Air said a selective ban was useless and urged the government to imitate Canada, the United States and Britain, where a total ban has been in place for many years. In Canada, for example, drivers must switch off their engines within one minute of stopping.
Debate over a ban on idling engines has been ongoing for more than seven years. In 2000, the government rejected a Legislative Council alliance's proposal to legislate on a ban and has since maintained that a bylaw is unnecessary.
In late 2005, Legco passed a non-binding motion to ban idling engines, but the government said it was a controversial issue and did not launch a public consultation then.