Chief secretary takes case for landfill expansion to Tuen Mun councillors
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Thursday met Tuen Mun district councillors in a last-ditch effort by the government to rally support for a controversial landfill extension plan.
In her opening speech to the councillors, Lam said the government would not withdraw the proposal and would table it to the Legislative Council for a funding approval on Friday as planned.
The proposal, which involves the launch of a feasibility study on extension plans for the Tuen Mun landfill, is at risk of being voted down.
Lam, the city’s second highest official, made an appearance at the local council meeting after many usually pro-government lawmakers made it clear they would oppose the plan, including rural leader Lau Wong-fat. Lau is chairman of the Tuen Mun district council and a big landowner, with plots in Lung Kwu Tan village next to the Tuen Mun landfill.
The local councillors object to the extension saying the district is home to many noxious facilities and residents have long been affected by odours and other nuisances.
Lam outlined several deal sweeteners to the district councillors, including widening a road to the landfill, providing funding to build a bridge across the Tuen Mun River, and removing a crematorium from current plans for the area.
She also promised councillors the government would speed up other improvements works that had been delayed over the years.
“I hope that councillors acknowledge our commitment to responding to residents’ needs,” she said.
But Tuen Mun councillors criticised Lam and Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, who was also at the meeting, for ignoring them until they needed support on this project.
At the end of the meeting, the council passed a motion, by 30 to 1, urging legislators to reject the government’s funding request for the proposal at Friday’s Legco meeting and ensure that government officials consult residents before re-tabling it.
“We are not saying we are opposed to any landfill plan. We find it unacceptable that the government has not consulted us properly. Officials must negotiate with us,” Lau said after the meeting.
Lau, who will also scrutinise the proposal in Legco on Friday, said filibustering was not necessarily the best way to deal with their opposition to the proposal.
“It would not be helpful to spend 30 hours on discussion. The best thing for the government to do is withdraw the proposal. It will only take 15 minutes,” he said.
Also on Thursday, about 50 Tuen Mun residents staged a hunger strike outside the Legislative Council in Admiralty to demand the government withdraw the extension proposal.