• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:00am
NewsHong Kong

Islanders' bid to halt Shek Kwu Chau incinerator fails

Court throws out all arguments of challenge to plan to build a HK$15b waste incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau near dolphin habitat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 8:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 4:44am

A Cheung Chau resident yesterday lost his legal battle to stop the government building a massive offshore waste incinerator on an island south of Lantau.

Leung Hon-wai objected to the proposed HK$15 billion incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau, which is near an important marine habitat for finless porpoises. He claimed the environmental impact assessment conducted for the project was flawed.

He saw all eight challenges he mounted dismissed by the Court of First Instance and vowed to take the challenge further.

"We will definitely file an appeal. It's not surprising that we lost," said Leung, 66, who took the case to court on behalf of Cheung Chau residents. "Our grounds are reasonable. We ought to fight for justice."

Leung said he opposed the construction of the incinerator because the government had not done enough to mitigate potential respiratory problems arising from the operations of the giant burner.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said the court's decision reaffirmed the objectiveness and transparency of the impact report, which was filed by the Environmental Protection Department.

The government would retable the project in the Legislative Council "at a suitable time", Wong said.

The proposal was presented to Legco in April last year, but the environmental affairs panel decided, amid public opposition, not to endorse it.

Wong declined to give an estimate on how much the projected costs had risen since then, but appealed for public support as an incinerator could take as long as eight years to build.

"Any further delay will not benefit Hong Kong's long-term development," he said.

Friends of the Earth advised against retabling the incinerator plan too soon. Instead, the government should seek to build public trust with its efforts to reduce and recycle waste, the environmental group said.

Leung's lawyers argued that the impact report failed to meet the requirements of a technical memorandum and a study brief from the government.

In part because of that, the department should not have granted the project an environmental permit, nor should the Town Planning Board have submitted a draft plan on the zoning of Shek Kwu Chau to the Chief Executive in Council, Leung said.

Dismissing the arguments, Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said off-site mitigation measures proposed in the impact report met requirements.

The judge pointed to the government's proposal to designate 700 hectares for a marine park - where no further developments would be allowed without prior approval - that would meet the requirement to offset a permanent loss of 31 hectares of marine habitat due to the project.

On Leung's challenge that the impact report failed to take into account a certain amount of persistent organic pollution and very fine particles, the judge said it was up to the "professional judgment" of the department to decide what to include in the report since there were no specific requirements.

Au also threw out Leung's position that it was wrong for the director of environmental protection to compile the impact report, approve it and grant the permit. The judge said the different tasks had in fact been done by the director's subordinates, who were properly separated.

The judge ordered Leung, who brought the case using legal aid, to pay costs.



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48% of HK daily MSW is putrescible, of that 42.3% (approx 3,500 m3) is food waste which is ultra wet food waste that will not combust
Stonecutters sewage treatment plant accepts 1.6 million m3 waste water per day for treatment
Waste food waste could be shredded in garbage disposal units & connected to the sewage system – the same microbes that eat the biosolids would also eat the food waste. 3500 m3 extra load on 1.6 million m3 per day is negligible. Stonecutters capacity by 2016 is 2.6 million m3 per day. The network is there, the reception /treatment capability is there it just needs Govt 2b proactive /mandate catering businesses hotels etc install disposal units -phase 1 connected to sewage system, phase 2 housing estates, phase 3 private estates Village houses get Green Bin system collected & delivered to neighbourhood shredder & fed into sewage system.
Bad location, bad technology. There are only limited reasons why such plans are made; ignorance, bad faith, collusion, corruption or ...lack of suitably professional and skilled advice or just sheer incompetence. One hopes that in this case it is one of the two latter possibilities. Perhaps wiser heads will prevail in the end and Tsang Tsui ash lagoon, ready and waiting (which if one reads the IE appears to be the obvious option) will in the end be chosen.
This project just doesn't make sense. Build a few smaller incinerators at existing landfill sites and don't lock into one technology. This should only be seen as one component of a waste management strategy comprised of recycling, composting, reduction and incineration.
Regarding the comment on trusting the professionals, the professionals did not recommend this site. The site was chosen for political reasons as the instruction of the new territories mafia.
If you want more, and smaller incinerators, why don't you suggest to build them next to the waste transfer stations using your "ultra-clean" pet plasma-arc technology? Particularly on Hong Kong Island East, and West. Good luck!
you have to trust the professionals, if you don't you better stop living in your high rise home, stop using electricity and stop using everything which are being taken care of for us by the professionals, You then go back to the wild to live a Flintsone's life. These people are just asking for too much, so much so that they are being seen as over self protection and selfish. The judicial review is just a waste of HK people's money. Hope that there will not be another review the bill of which would be footed by the people of HK .
Vested interests, incompetent officials and an Environmental Protection Department which doesn't protect the environment. The people behind this asinine project should be forced to live in the shadow of its poison cloud.
Once again, another breathtakingly short-sighted and utterly stupid decision being made at the highest level.
Let's not address the real problem by finding a way to control our waste production, no no. Let's just continue feeding a machine that relentlessly creates 'wealth' and spits out pollution and waste; then just burn that waste and further poison the atmosphere. Yes, let's do that instead.
In a thousand or ten thousand years time, I sincerely hope that our surviving descendents find a way to reanimate the relevant leaders and decision-makers from the late 20th and early 21st century and put them on trial for crimes against the planet.


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