A government advisory body has recommended a voluntary charter scheme to alleviate light pollution in Hong Kong, noting that the city is not yet ready for laws to combat the urban scourge.
In its report, the Task Force on External Lighting suggested that a two-year scheme be rolled out within six months, in which merchants will be asked to turn off outdoor lighting by 11 p.m. on a voluntary basis, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.
In commercial districts such as Causeway Bay, the deadline could be extended to 2 a.m. the next morning and shops that are open overnight are exempted.
The task force said the government could kick off legislation after the two-year voluntary scheme.
Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council’s committee on environmental affairs, said he was utterly disappointed with the task force’s report, saying that the government has obviously succumbed to opposition from the commercial sector.
He also said he could not understand why it took the government seven years to decide on a voluntary scheme since the proposal to regulate light pollution in the city was first raised in 2008.
Chan urged the government to start preparing for legislation against light pollution while the charter scheme is in effect or it will be too late.
Chow Wai-lap, chairman of the task force, said public opinions were collected from a series of activities launched within a three-month period in 2013.
The task force was set up in 2011 with its term of office running until August this year. It has conducted two sessions of public consultation so far.
Light pollution, aside from resulting in wasteful consumption of electricity, is known to have negative effects on human health, including sleep deprivation and disruption of our natural biological rhythms. It also deprives us of the opportunity to enjoy the wondrous sight of the evening sky with the moon and constellations.
However, some quarters fear that enacting laws against light pollution may affect commercial and tourism businesses and even have an impact on the safety of streets and neighborhoods.
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