Waste incinerator is inevitable, says Edward Yau
A plan to build a HK$15 billion waste incinerator may be unpopular, but the next chief executive will see it is necessary, the environment chief said yesterday.
Speaking on a Commercial Radio show, Edward Yau Tang-wah said that while the incinerator was not the option preferred by Leung Chun-ying, the alternatives - reducing waste at the source and landfill dumps - were not viable solutions.
'In any part of the world, waste reduction measures do not drag the amount of waste down to zero,' the environment secretary said.
Lawmakers on the environmental affairs panel last month refused to support the HK$14.96 billion project on Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau, saying the next government under Leung might not want it.
The Legislative Council panel will vote again on the project next Friday, and several lawmakers said yesterday they remained unconvinced by Yau's latest sales pitch. Leung has said the government should emphasise reducing waste at source, regarding incineration as a last resort.
Yau said the current administration was responsible for getting the project under way before its term ends in June.
Building an incinerator 'is reasonable and inevitable', he said. Hong Kong produces 18,000 tonnes of rubbish every day. An incinerator could burn 3,000 tonnes a day, reducing the landfill burden by 1 million tonnes per year, Yau said.
If the panel approves the plan, the proposal will go to the Finance Committee's establishment subcommittee, then to the full committee for funding.
However, legislator Gary Chan Hak-kan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the party had yet to decide its position. But its members' stance is closest to Leung's - that an incinerator should be a last resort. 'Leung and Yau have different views on incineration, it's quite apparent. Why not let the new government deal with the matter?' he said.
Democrat Kam Nai-wai said he would wait for Leung to make his stance clearer.
'If there was indeed less waste [from reducing waste at source], the incinerator ... could become a white elephant,' he warned. Unless these issues were addressed, his party would not support it.