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January, 2010:

Impact on the environment of offshore wind farm

CLP is intented to construct the largest offshore wind farm in the world in Hong Kong.

CLP is intented to construct the largest offshore wind farm in the world in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Following is a question by Hon Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (January 13): I have learnt that CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) intends to construct the largest offshore wind farm in the world at about 10 kilometres east of Clearwater Bay, which will involve 67 wind turbines, each about 135 metres high.In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the Chief Executive has announced in his 2009-2010 Policy Address that the Ministry of Land and Resources has given approval for Hong Kong Geopark to be listed as a national geopark, which involves eight sites, including the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region and the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region; and it has been reported that the Hong Kong Government will inject resources to manage the geopark and, with reference to UNESCO’s guidelines and through the State, will apply to the relevant authority for listing the geopark asa world geopark; yet the said wind farm is only three kilometers away from the geopark, whether the Government has studied in-depth the feasibility of having the wind farm constructed at other locations so as to reduce the negative impact on natural scenery and the assessment on the world geopark application to be submitted;

(b) given that it has been reported that the wind farm will be located at the Sai Kung Caldera, which was formed 140 million years ago, and the construction site is also close to the hexagonal rock columns under the sea at Ninepin Group, whether the Government had fully considered the negative impact of the construction of the wind farm on such landscapes when approving the relevant environmental impact assessment report, and whether it had prudently examined comprehensive plans to reduce the impact on local residents and the natural ecological environment during the construction of the wind farm; if it had, of the details; and

(c) whether the Government has fully considered the negative impact of the noise and light pollution created during the operation of the wind farm on migratory birds and marine ecology, as well as the solutions; if it has, of the details?

Reply: President, (a) The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Hong Kong Offshore Wind Farm (HKOWF) conducted by CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP) has taken into account the presence of the nearby Hong Kong Geopark (Geopark).According to the EIA report, given the location of the HKOWF, with mitigation measures in place and using the existing landforms as far as practicable to shield the wind farm turbines from view, landscape and visual impacts could be reduced. To further mitigate the landscape and visual impacts of HKOWF, the Environmental Permit stipulates that CLP shall submit the final layout of the wind farm turbines to the Director of Environmental Protection for approval.The final layout should demonstrate that it has minimised the footprint of the project among the possible alternative layouts, and maximised the distance of the turbines from Ninepin Group and Ung Kong Group. Although developing wind farms can achieve the renewable energy target, the Government will continue examining the potential impacts of HKOWF on seeking the Geopark to be listed as “global geopark”.The approval of the HKOWF EIA report reflects that the report fulfills the regulations and requirements laid down in the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap. 499).However, construction works can commence only if it fulfills all relevant laws and obtains the necessary approvals. In accordance with the Scheme of Control Agreement, the HKOWF investment requires approval by the Government.By then the Government will consider the application from various aspects, including renewable energy policy, impact on electricity tariff, economic benefits, technical factors, site location etc..

(b) The proposed HKOWF is located approximately 9 km east of the Clearwater Bay peninsula and 5km east of South Ninepin Island, over 3km outside the boundary of the Geopark.The EIA report has recommended suction caissons as foundations of the wind farm turbines.The construction method does not require piling, dredging or drilling into the rock layer of seabed, hence it will not cause adverse impact to the seabed of Ninepin Group and the natural environment of the area.Since the selected HKOWF site is far away from residential areas, construction of the HKOWF also will not cause nuisance to the residents.

(c) The EIA study of HKOWF has considered in detail the impact on migratory birds and marine ecology due to sound and light generated during operation of HKOWF.The EIA report points out that the location of HKOWF is not within the travelling path of migratory birds.Operation of wind turbines will therefore not cause adverse impact to birds.Apart from this, the frequency of sound emitted by HKOWF is different from the range capable to be received by most birds; hence the birds will not be affected by the sound.Non-reflective paint will be applied to the mechanic parts of the wind farm turbines to reduce the impact of reflected sunlight to the birds. Regarding marine ecology, the EIA study identifies that in the vicinities of HKOWF, finless porpoises and green turtles are the species deserving more protection. However, the waters of HKOWF are not the main habitat of the finless porpoises and green turtles. It is expected that the sound and light generated by HKOWF will not impose long-term adverse impact to both species.

source: HKSAR