Legal row looms over Eco Park recycler

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 March, 2008, 12:00am

Officials may cancel tenancy of tyre firm

A legal dispute is looming between a tyre recycler and the government, which is set to cancel the company's tenancy of a plot at the Eco Park in Tuen Mun because it has not used the land.

Jets Technics, listed in Singapore, has left the site idle and vacant and has not submitted any building plans since it was awarded the plot in May last year, according to environment officials.

Officials say they are inclined to issue an order terminating the tenancy if the company fails to start operations within a year, as required under the terms of the lease.

Legal advice is being sought and a move to seek compensation from the tenant for possible rental loss has not been ruled out, said Ellen Chan Ying-lung, assistant director of environmental protection.

'We hope to resolve the matter quickly as the site is a precious land resource. If we don't do it, it will be unfair for other recyclers who might need the site too. After all, we have spent HK$250 million to build the park,' Dr Chan said.

Jets Technics was one of three recyclers - the others are engaged recycling plastic and wood - awarded plots at the park, which aims to provide long-term, affordable sites for high-value-added recycling and environmental industries.

The plastics recycler lost its site late last year after it failed to submit a bond on time, while the wood recycler is now finalising its building plans.

So Tat-wing, chairman of Jets Technics, said the company might initiate legal action regarding the site but refused to disclose further details.

'From the first day we entered the site, we ... started this legal process,' he said, adding that the company had paid about HK$7 million in a bond and rent since May.

'We have come through a long process aiming to construct a world-class factory at the site, but what we see at the park is shocking,' he said, without elaborating.

Mr So denied that the site had been left idle because of a delay in implementing a proposed levy on tyres to fund collection and recycling or due to the declining availability of waste tyres for recycling. Jets Technics had earlier handed back to the government a site in Kwai Chung that it had on a short-term tenancy.

Sources familiar with the situation said Jets was dissatisfied with requirements to mitigate gas from a closed landfill nearby, the lack of loading facilities at the park and the poor condition of the access road.

Dr Chan, however, said the conditions of the sites and facilities at the park were all clearly listed in the tender document.

Without referring to Jets, Dr Chan expressed puzzlement as to why some tenants had chosen to leave the plot idle and wondered if it was aimed at preventing competitors from securing the site.

She said that if the site was taken back it might not be used for recycling tyres but go to other companies that had more urgent needs.

Man Chi-sum, chief executive of Green Power, said the dispute highlighted the need for the government to provide more incentives and policy support to recyclers.

'The poorly developed recycling industry is deprived of strong support. That's why we are overreliant on overseas recyclers by exporting 90 per cent of our recovered waste to them,' Dr Man said.

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, environmental affairs manager of Friends of the Earth, said the Environmental Protection Department also needed to push ahead with its product responsibility scheme and step up waste separation at the source to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness.