Further study on Beijing's waste plant ordered after public protest

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am

The mainland's environmental watchdog yesterday underlined its decision to delay a controversial waste-treatment plant near a Beijing residential area, saying the project could move forward only after a further environmental impact study and public hearings.

The decision has put the Ministry of Environmental Protection at odds with the Beijing municipal government, which planned as early as 2005 to build the refuse-burning facility.

'I think the project needs further environmental evaluation ... because there are still residents living within 500 metres of the site. Our rules require no residents within that range,' Zhu Xingxiang, head of the ministry's pollution prevention division, said on the sidelines of the National People's Congress.

'We should also let the public's voices be heard in the process ... and make sure the project does not start until all conditions are met.'

The environmental authority's caution was in direct contrast with a government investment guide released on Tuesday by the capital's economic planning authority, which listed the Liulitun plant as needing to be 'accelerated'.

Haidian district planned the 750 million yuan (HK$850 million) incinerator project to ease complaints about the stench from a landfill. But strong opposition from residents, green groups and mainland media, including state television, delayed the project.

Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's environmental protection bureau, said yesterday that it would not give a response until it had reviewed the ministry's comments.