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Air Quality Review Could Be Speeded up in HK
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Stung by accusations they are using delaying tactics, Hong Kong environmental officials say they will consider speeding up a review of Hong Kong's long-term air-quality objectives.

This follows a call from the Advisory Council on the Environment, which said the review of how to meet World Health Organization guidelines should be completed as quickly as possible.

The present timetable calls for an 18-month study to be launched early next year, with interim targets and the pace of achieving them to be decided in 2009 after public consultation.

But council chairman Lam Kin-che said members felt the two processes could be combined to save time.

In a rare move, the council has also decided to organize a public forum in September to gauge public views on the review.

Professor Lam said bold and innovative measures might be needed to meet the new targets and it was important for the public to forge a consensus, especially when the measures required trade-offs and sacrifices.

Critics have said the review, announced last week, is too time-consuming and fails to address immediate health threats facing the public.

Deputy Director of Environmental Protection Esmond Lee Chung-sin said the government would continue to press ahead with short-term measures to relieve air pollution despite the review on medium and long-term targets and strategy.

(CRI July 18, 2006)

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