Incinerator project gets green light a second time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 December, 2011, 12:00am


A controversial plan to build a rubbish incinerator off Lantau Island was approved for a second time when government advisers cleared its environmental impact report.

The scheme was originally approved in April, but it was sidelined by the delay to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project.

Yesterday the report underwent fresh scrutiny by a subcommittee of the Advisory Council on the Environment. Despite strong opposition from residents of nearby Cheung Chau and Lantau, the subcommittee endorsed the report in a two-hour meeting, upholding its support for the same report earlier this year.

Under the plan proposed by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), 16 hectares of sea will be reclaimed for the incinerator just south of Lantau near Shek Kwu Chau. It will be able to incinerate 3,000 tonnes of rubbish and will have a small mechanical sorting facility.

The reclamation will lead to a loss of 31 hectares of marine habitat, but the government says it will create a 700-hectare marine park between Shek Kwu Chau and the Soko Islands.

Subcommittee member Edwin Lau Che-feng said he opposed the environmental impact report as it did not fully consider the alternatives. 'I wonder if the EPD has tried its best to avoid such impacts, especially on the marine environment,' he said.

A site in Tuen Mun was also considered in the report. Some critics say it is an obvious choice, and the government said it would be acceptable if a second facility is needed.

'I hope this will be the first but also the last incinerator we have,' said Lau, who is also director of Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong). He said the only change to the report since April is a vow to use more construction waste for reclamation. The government will seek funding for the project from the legislature next year.