Environmental report on Shek Kwu Chau incinerator fell short, court told
Environmental impact report failed to meet requirements, court is told
The environmental impact report for a massive offshore waste incinerator failed to meet the requirements of a technical memorandum and a study brief from the government, a court heard yesterday.
Lawyer Valentine Yim See-tai made the assertion in the Court of First Instance as a legal challenge to the HK$23 billion project on Shek Kwu Chau, an island south of Lantau, began.
Yim is representing Leung Hon-wai, 66, a resident of nearby Cheung Chau island, in a judicial review challenging decisions by the Town Planning Board and the director of the Environmental Protection Department, which cleared the way for the incinerator's construction.
Johnny Mok SC, for the government, said the report had met requirements.
Outside court, Leung said: "My family has been living on Cheung Chau for eight generations. We are particularly worried about the air quality and pollution likely to be caused by the incinerator. It is close to the community. We would have no objection if it was elsewhere."
Leung is one of four people who lodged a judicial challenge to the project. His was selected to proceed and the other applicants will be bound by the decision.
Yim said that one ground for the challenge was the department's failure to explain, as required, any measures to remedy the loss of an ecologically important 31-hectare marine habitat, home to finless porpoises.
"Our complaint is that the technical memorandum requires that the offsite mitigation measures be made during the environmental impact assessment; now they say 'let's deal with it in the further study'," he said. "There should not be another report. It should have been done in the same round."
Yim acknowledged that the government had said it would produce a study on establishing a marine park before construction began, adding that this still fell short of requirements.
The report should have included the profile and location of the proposed park, he said.
Yim said the report also failed to explain why no alternatives to an incinerator were considered and no full study of the health effects of various waste-disposal technologies conducted.
"If they discarded alternatives, they should make it clear so people would know they were discarded. If there is no proper assessment, there could be dire consequences," Yim said.