What a load of rubbish: councillor says government is fear mongering over landfills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 3:05am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 3:05am

The government has been scaremongering by saying the Tseung Kwan O landfill will overflow by next year, a Sai Kung district councillor says.

Christine Fong Kwok-shan said the tip might last until 2020, given that its remaining capacity was 7 million cubic metres in 2012 - only 1 million cubic metres down from the previous year.

"I don't believe that one day Hong Kong citizens will be besieged by garbage," she said. "The government is threatening citizens."

Fong has been opposing the government's HK$20 billion proposals for the extension of three landfills including the Tseung Kwan O tip and construction of a waste incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau.

She is also against the government bundling the projects together when putting them to the Legislative Council, because people might agree with building an incinerator but not the landfill expansion.

Legislators at the public works subcommittee on Wednesday delayed a decision on the proposals, pushing the issue to the next meeting on May 7. The proposals need to pass the subcommittee before they can be put before the Finance Committee.

World Green Organisation chief executive Dr William Yu Yuen-ping said the amount of rubbish the city produced varied each year, so it was not possible to estimate how much longer the landfill could be sustained based on figures from only one year.

He criticised previous administrations for ignoring the garbage problem for more than a decade, causing the issue to deteriorate to "a point of near explosion" today.

"The proposals have to pass, even though we don't like them," Yu said, adding that if they were not passed this year, it would not be possible for them to pass in the next few years because the legislature would be occupied by issues surrounding the 2017 chief executive election and political reforms.

"The new chief executive would face a big [rubbish pile] then," he said.

Yu said the government could consider compensating Tseung Kwan O residents for the landfill expansion, such as exempting them from garbage charges.

The government has described the landfill expansion as urgent, saying it will take eight years to build an incinerator.

Fong disagreed.

"Despite the delay, if it could take the government a short time to build the high-speed railway, it certainly wouldn't take it eight years to build an incinerator."

The MTR company announced on Tuesday that the HK$67 billion high-speed railway linking Hong Kong with Guangzhou had been delayed by up to two years. Started in January 2010, the 26-kilometre project will not be finished until 2016, with services starting in 2017.