Lai See

Digesting the price

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 March, 2014, 1:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 6:32am

We were intrigued to read about a contract in Hertfordshire, in Britain, for a three megawatt food waste anaerobic digestion plant. The plant will handle some 66,000 tonnes a year or 181 tonnes per day while generating enough energy to power 6,000 homes and produce 18,000 tonnes of compost a year.

The contract was awarded by Tamar Energy to Imtech Water, Waste and Energy for £14.5 million (HK$187.5 million). The site on which this facility is being built is described as "exceptionally complex".

Hong Kong is planning a similar plant at Siu Ho Wan in North Lantau. It will process 200 tonnes a day of food waste and will supposedly generate some 14 million kilowatts per hour. The plant was discussed at an environmental affairs panel meeting recently when lawmakers were told that construction costs had tripled from HK$489 million to HK$1.5 billion. That's about eight times the price of the British facility. How can that be right when both facilities have a similar capacity?

Happy days after bar's grilling

Regulars at the Happy Valley Bar & Grill will doubtless be pleased to know that the bar has emerged from a particularly hard time at the hands of the Liquor Licensing Board with a liquor licence that extends for the next nine months.

Liquor licences are normally extended for a year. However, in May 2012 the bar's licence was extended for six months, and then for a further six months until May last year, when it was extended for three months.

It received a further three-month extension before having its licence withdrawn in September last year. It appealed and in December, the licence was extended for three months, helped by a petition from 300 regulars.

Earlier this month it secured a licence for nine months. However, its operating conditions regarding people outside the bar are much tighter than those of a neighbouring bar. So the craziness that we have documented continues. Hong Kong needs a better system for managing its liquor licences.


High costs mean Lamma housing plan doesn't add up

An early spanner has been thrown into government plans to provide housing for 5,000 people in a 20-hectare development to be built on the site of the old quarry adjacent to Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma island.

The idea is that one third of the new residents would live in subsidised housing, and the development would also feature a resort with a 260-room hotel and centres for outdoor recreation and water sports.

On RTHK's Backchat programme, Roger Nissim said the plan was unviable. "Nobody has spoken to the developers," said Nissim, a land and planning consultant who worked for the Lands Department for 20 years. He told Lai See that construction costs had gone up 60-70 per cent over the past three years. Land cost for a conventional site was between HK$3,000 and 4,000 per square foot, but would be higher for this site given that it is a remote area and material would have to be shipped in. Also, a sewage treatment system along with water and electricity supplies would be needed, and a pier constructed.

He points out that with flats in Discovery Bay selling for between HK$6,500 and 7,000 per square foot, a developer of the Sok Kwu Wan site would be paying close to that for construction and infrastructure alone. He also poured cold water on the idea of having people in subsidised housing. He said travelling from the island to the urban centres involved significant travel costs.

So we wonder why the Planning Department seems to think this is such a good idea. It is well known that this government is desperate to find housing sites. The Sok Kwu Wan plan appears to be a reflection of that desperation and pressure from the Housing Bureau and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to find sites.


No monopoly on bad manners

There is a tendency to blame bad behaviour in Hong Kong on mainland Chinese.

However, a reader describes waiting for a lift in Lee Gardens shortly before lunch. After waiting about 10 minutes for an empty lift, it was promptly mobbed by office workers apparently semi-crazed by hunger. They shoved ahead of people who had been waiting longer, including an elderly Chinese lady.

This was just plain poor manners - and not a mainlander in sight.


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