Waste incinerator report gets advisers' green light
Ng Kang-chung and Joyce Ng
A controversial report on the environmental impact of a planned waste incinerator was given the green light yesterday by government environment advisers.
The study was approved by the Advisory Council on the Environment amid charges by the plan's opponents of irregularities in the way it was conducted.
Council chairman Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing said members were generally satisfied with the officials' explanation of the way they had carried out the impact assessment. 'So far, the government has not made any decision [as to where to build an incinerator] and that the council will certainly discuss it again when a decision is made,' he said. At the centre of the issue is the environmental assessment impact report on the first phase of the 'development of integrated waste management facilities' - that is, waste incinerator(s) - to dispose of municipal solid waste.
Departing from the usual practice of studying the best development site identified, the incinerator study covers two sites - Tuen Mun and Shek Kwu Chau - and also incorporates an option of having an incinerator in each of the two places in the later stage of the study.
'The proposed project will be located at the Middle Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoon in Tuen Mun and/or an artificial island near Shek Kwu Chau with a size of about 11 hectares,' according to the study cited in the council meeting yesterday.
But council member Edwin Lau Che-feng, who is also director of Friends of the Earth, questioned the way the study was conducted.
'It will unavoidably give people an impression that the government might have some hidden agenda, that is, to build two incinerators instead of one,' said Lau.
A former council member, Dr Ng Cho-nam, said: 'This time, they started with two and ended up studying three options. In the future, they can do five or six in one go and the council has no power to say no to it.'