Tuen Mun landfill

Landfill plans spark angry protest, calls for blockade

NT residents say their earlier victory on tip expansions has not curbed government's pursuit of same plans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 4:22am

Temperatures ran high in the square outside the Legislative Council yesterday as opponents of landfill extensions made a spirited protest in defence of their neighbourhoods.

Inside, lawmakers were due to vote on government funding requests for an enlargement of the Ta Kwu Ling dump and a feasibility study for a proposed expansion of the Tuen Mun landfill, both of which will reach capacity in a few years.

About 200 residents from the two areas filled the air with the sounds of slogans and drums, urging the withdrawal of the plans. They vowed to step up action if the Legco Finance Committee passed the proposals.

Dozens of people, including Democratic Party members and residents of Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, staged a 24-hour hunger strike.

They accused the government of irresponsibility and called for Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing's resignation.

Lawmakers opposing the plan and representatives from the Heung Yee Kuk, including rural leaders Leung Fuk-yuen and Hau Chi-keung, expressed support for their cause.

Boos greeted passing legislator Christopher Chung Shu-kun, whose Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong had decided to vote for both plans.

To Sik-yu, from Ha Pak Nai village in Yuen Long, said the government ignored complaints.

Holding up a placard that read "Missing: Wong Kam-sing", he said: "Not one top official has come to see our plight, despite the many requests we have made."

His home, separated from the Tuen Mun landfill by a river, was regularly blanketed in foul-smelling air, he said. To was also worried about the harm a landfill expansion could inflict on the area's landscape and air quality.

Lung Kwu Tan villager Lau Chi-shing, 54, said they might block the entrance to the Tuen Mun tip if the motion for a HK$35 million feasibility study passed.

"The government says the money is meant only for research, but that's nonsense," he said. "If officials decide to look into it, it means they will do it."

Lau, one of the hunger strikers, said Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's presence at a Tuen Mun district council meeting on Thursday was an empty gesture.

"If she's sincere, she should shelve the plan for now, and talk to us," he said.

Wong Wai-yim, of Ta Kwu Ling's rural committee, said resistance from locals was relatively muted because "it is very difficult to get the residents organised". He called for other ways to manage waste, such an incinerator, and for the government to listen to residents.

"We might as well sterilise ourselves if the plan goes ahead," he said. "It's not good for our next generation to live here anyway."