• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 9:24am
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.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

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.
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.
rpasea
It's the "biggest of its kind in the world" because governments elsewhere simply mandate environmental standards. In HK, govt subsidizes big business. Govt should have just taken over the bus companies but that would have upset a few tycoons.
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.
KwunTongBypass
And in return will the bus companies be obliged to completely review their itineraries, schedules, and general operations - to become more effective and efficient i.e. less empty buses plying on 'traditional routes'!
HK-Explorer
This is good news to get rid of old trucks from the road of Hong Kong.
I do not believe that at thus stage the government could mandate that old trucks be removed without subsidies. 80,000 is just a bit too many and would have caused financial hardship.
Hopefully after 2020 the government wills tart to mandate maximum ages of vehicles and not provide subsidies and the owners will just add this to the cost of businesses.
In regard to busses. Every country in the world gives massive subsidies to busses & trains. Hong Kong actually per capita runs a very efficient public transportation business.
It is somewhat the problem of the government that busses are so old. They regulate profits of bus companies which takes away their ability to rejuvenate their fleet. Thus the Euro 2 busses have increased to 70% of the fleet. Thus now the government needs to pump in $$$ to replace these and clean up our air.
to be honest I believe 95% of people in HK support reducing the amount of old vehicles using public$$$. we all want clean air.
mankydanky
Quadruple the tax on sulphur diesel. Implement road tax in congested areas. Problem fixed.
 
 
 
 
 

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