• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:01pm
NewsHong Kong
ENVIRONMENT

HK$3b extra spent to force 85,000 polluting diesel vehicles off the road

Revised plan to force 85,000 polluting diesel vehicles off the road by 2020 has been broadly welcomed, but green groups are disappointed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 12:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, 4:49am

Greater incentives are now being offered by the government as part of a revised HK$11.7 billion package designed to force 85,000 polluting diesel commercial vehicles off the road by 2020.

The package, which officials said was in the best interests of the public, was generally welcomed by the transport trades. However, it came under fire from clean air advocates unhappy with the Environment Bureau.

"This is in the best public interest as the longer it drags on, the more people will suffer from the pollution. Our primary aim is to ensure that that scheme can secure support from the lawmakers and the trade, and be implemented," said one environment official.

The scheme, along with a proposal to limit operating life of new diesel vehicles at 15 years, will require endorsement from the environmental affairs panel next week, before a funding request is filed. Officials hope it can be rolled out in the first quarter of next year at the earliest.

The new package will cost HK$3 billion more than the original estimate of HK$8.7 billion - though up to HK$10 billion had been earmarked by the Financial Secretary. The compensation will be boosted from 10-33 per cent of new vehicle replacement costs to 27-33 per cent.

Owners will be entitled to the same payment whether or not they buy a new vehicle. They could also use the subsidy to buy a used vehicle. The 19,000 most polluting pre-Euro diesel vehicles, which are at least 18 years old, will be removed as scheduled before 2016. About 64,000 vehicles, of Euro I, II and III emission standards, will have their deadlines extended by one year to 2017, 2018 and 2020.

But green groups were disappointed. "If we follow the carrot and stick principle, it is reasonable for the public to expect that public health will be adequately protected with the HK$11.7 billion taxpayers' money spent," said Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung, from Friends of the Earth.

Kwong Sum-yin, from the Clean Air Network, accused the bureau of "giving up its bottom line".

The government estimates that removing dirty diesel vehicles could reduce roadside particles by 80 per cent, and cut cancer risks by 50 per cent. The World Health Organisation says diesel emissions are carcinogenic.

Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, was "cautiously optimistic" that the revised scheme would be accepted.

"We hope the air quality in Hong Kong by 2020 will meet the new and more stringent standards that will be in effect next year," he said.

Yuen Cheung-fung, deputy secretary for rights and interests with the Motor Transport Workers General Union, said they reluctantly accepted the revision because the increased subsidy met their lowest request.

But he still expected about 20,000 vehicle owners aged 56 to 63 to scrap their vehicles, get the subsidy and retire, because they would not be able to afford a new vehicle and would have difficulty finding other jobs.

Chiang Chi-wai, chairman of Lok Ma Chau China-Hong Kong Freight Association, said representatives of a total of nine fleet operators' associations all agreed with the revised package. "Although we asked for a maximum of 40 per cent subsidy, the revision is quite close to our request," he said. "We think the plan can pass the legislature, because it's not a huge increase of subsidy."

Labour-sector legislator Tang Ka-piu worried that sellers of new models might raise prices because of the subsidy, and said owners might also find it difficult to fix their vehicles because many repairers did not know how to work on the newer types.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

13

This article is now closed to comments

deanna.munson2
BECAUSE WE CANT HAVE PEOPLE FUELING UP WITH HOMEMADE BIODIESEL AND AVOIDING OUR MANUFACTURED PRICE INCREASES FOR TRANSPORTATION. ****www.jimstonefreelance.com/50plus.html sounds like one hellofa deal for the petrol industry.didnt realize there was such a thing as an extra 3billion to spare.could have helped the entire globe with that "extra 3 billion" in "sustainability" funding by encouraging fuel efficient alternative technologies instead of suppressing such things in favor of profiting the fuel industry .diesel is used because it is cheaper,and biodiesel can be made at home ,but this isnt about selfsufficiency or earth freindly technology is it.its about that good ol' "sustainability" agenda whereby corporations are sustained on the backs of the poor and all self sufficient methods of survival will be eliminated to benefit the global corporate agendas that are killing all natural life on this planet with haste.gotta keep up that slave trade
Carparklee
It usually takes both carrots and sticks to make things work. now, the carrots are out, in huge amount, what about the sticks? Can the government tighten the monitor of the conditions of the running vehicles on roads, especially those diesel ones? If it is found that a smoking chimney running on the road, a heavy fine should be given to the driver and owner. If the government worries about the reinforcing cost, it can consider to grant the right to citizens since almost everyone of us is equipped with a photo shooting communication device. With the extended function to be added to the current 1823 app., I am sure smoking vehicles will soon be history in Hong Kong.
nicolaslehotzky@gmail.com
In other countries, dirty vehicles are banned or given a hefty tax. Why does HK need to pay for the replacement of these old vehicles?
pjp
This is a fantastic idea, what with the downturn in the building sector the government is now struggling to give these tycoons infrastructure projects and great masses of public cash. Now they can kill 2 birds with one stone, placate the greenies with a better late than never scheme and also give the tycoons through their bus companies, construction and concrete industries some free handouts.
Well played all round.
On a serious note I agree that these costs should be a cost of doing business. OK there are some freelancers who own trucks and don't belong to a tycoon controlled subsidiary. We should be able to accomodate these by having some sort of means test to see if they qualify or not. To give $ to tycoon subsidiaries is just laugable.
wwong888
in most other industries, the cost of conforming to government regulations is borne by the businesses themselves. its call the cost of doing business. if you are in the transport industry, you should assume regulations regarding emissions will get stricter and you will need to replace your fleet over time. why the hell do these guys get a handout? just set the regulations and make the business owners conform. simple. maybe prices go up, maybe they don't but i don't see why i have to pay for this.
don67
While it's true that new vehicles should be mandated and not subsidised, at least in this initiative public money is going towards something that everybody can enjoy.... fresh air.
henleyhk
Yet another example of a broken government policy and a disgusting misuse of taxpayers' money. Shame on Christine Loh for supporting the idea. There are other ways of making it in the interests of commercial vehicle owners to modernise/upgrade without squandering public funds, but I suppose they would not line the pockets of the transport lobby.
mankydanky
Quadruple the tax on sulphur diesel. Implement road tax in congested areas. Problem fixed.
HK-Explorer
Maagfaahm - the bus companies would love to become more efficient as it would save them lots of $$. It is legislature special interests that stop them.
Legislators fight to keep loss making routes as they think some people like the convienience. 70% of routes loose money. Busses should stop long distances and become feeder routes to MTR or to cross harbour tunnels.
Bus routes have not changed in 20 years even though Hong Kong has changed tremendously. About 10% of busses could be removed from the roads if they realigned and improved routes.
KwunTongBypass
So, what was first: The chicken or the egg?

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or