Lau Wong-fat vows to block second landfill extension, in Tuen Mun
Environment officials struggling to find space for the city's rubbish may have to shelve another landfill extension plan after pro-government lawmakers joined pan-democrats in opposing it.
New Territories leader and lawmaker Lau Wong-fat said yesterday he would do all he could to block the extension of the Tuen Mun tip, by far the bigger of two plans remaining since the government withdrew a proposal for the Tseung Kwan O dump.
Two lawmakers who are also executive councillors urged the government to consider withdrawing its HK$35 million request for a feasibility study of the Tuen Mun plan, while the Liberal Party said it was considering withdrawing its support.
"I will exhaust all means to block the funding request," Lau said, calling on Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing to withdraw it from the Finance Committee agenda on Friday.
He claimed he had secured support from lawmakers in the loose Business and Professionals Alliance.
Lau is a big landowner, with plots in Lung Kwu Tan village next to the Tuen Mun landfill.
Executive councillor and legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, who belongs to the seven-member Alliance, advised the government to postpone the item. "Let's wait a few more days," he said.
Fellow Exco member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, of the New People's Party, also said the government should consider withdrawing the plan.
But the Environment Bureau said last night it would be tabled as scheduled.
At least 32 of 70 lawmakers on the committee, including the pan-democrats and Federation of Trade Unions, have pledged to oppose the plan.
James Tien Pei-chun, of the Liberal Party, also said the party would "reassess" its support due to the widespread opposition.
If the plan is rejected, Wong will have lost two of the three extensions deemed necessary to keep the city running. The three landfills, now the only destination for waste, will fill up one by one from 2015.
Wong's earlier shelving of the Tseung Kwan O plan ignited even stronger opposition from Tuen Mun residents, with only the HK$7 billion Ta Kwu Ling extension plan meeting less opposition.
Whether the proposals will be put to a vote will depend on when a filibuster threatened by "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung ends.
Lau blasted Wong for failing to properly consult the local community.
He said he was disappointed about a letter in which Wong said the administration had co-operated with the district council through a liaison group.
The liaison group was set up in 2007 to follow up district improvements after the local council gave its conditional support for a sludge incinerator to be built in Tuen Mun.
"This is not the case," Lau said, speaking after a meeting with fellow district councillors. "This should not be mixed up with [the landfill issue]."
Yesterday's meeting was snubbed by councillors from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which has pledged support for the extension.
The district council has objected to the landfill extension on the grounds Tuen Mun has a disproportionate share of dirty facilities such as power plants and fuel depots.
Wong Wai-yim, of the Ta Kwu Ling rural committee, said while he opposed the landfill plan, he was equally concerned about the waste crisis facing the city.