The Hong Kong government should conduct strategic impact assessments to determine if its infrastructure projects affect nearby cities in the Pearl River Delta, a cross-border planning study has recommended.
The study, covering Hong Kong, Macau and mainland cities Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan and Zhongshan, also said the three sides should organise joint forums to allow stakeholders to make policy suggestions to other governments.
Expert groups from the cities should also hold regular meetings to exchange views and share good practices, it added.
The release of the study's recommendations yesterday came after a landfill expansion in Tuen Mun drew opposition from more than 200 Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress deputies this month. They have been concerned about the expansion since a fire at the landfill in November sent noxious smoke wafting north of the border.
The Planning Department said yesterday that the study - part of a project to develop homes and businesses in the bay area of the Pearl River Estuary - was now in the second stage of its public consultation.
In the recommendation report released yesterday, the cities are advised to conduct more detailed strategic environmental assessments at an early stage in order to examine impacts and mitigation measures for projects that may cause regional environmental problems.
It cited the planned Zhuhai-Shenzhen rail line as an example, as the project could threaten Chinese white dolphins in the estuary, worsen air quality and create noise problems in the surrounding areas.
But the report does not say whether the assessments should be collaborative efforts between cities.
"It would be ideal for governments on both sides to look at the cumulative impact of a project," said Ng Cho-nam, a geography professor at the University of Hong Kong.
Other recommendations include enhancing leisure trails and strengthening transport links between cities.
The study's first stage, begun in 2011, led to controversy in Hong Kong. Activists said it violated the principle of "one country, two systems", and there were fears the city would lose control of its planning process.
But the department said the study did not involve specific plans for individual cities.