The environment minister says his priority now is to get lawmakers to approve his plans for a landfill extension in Tseung Kwan O and a waste incinerator in Shek Kwu Chau, and that he does not intend to push for a second incinerator just yet.
Over the past few months, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing has been lobbying for political and community support for his waste infrastructure plan, which he says is essential for the sustainability of the city.
"[The landfill extension and waste incinerator] are things we cannot do without," the architect-turned-minister said.
Wong would not speculate on the outcome of the Public Works Subcommittee's upcoming vote on his waste infrastructure plan and was tight-lipped on his contingency plans if lawmakers veto his controversial landfill extension proposal.
The plan to extend the landfill in Tseung Kwan O has been opposed by residents who say it would cause a nuisance to them and the environment.
There are also plans to extend the landfills in Tuen Mun, and Ta Kwu Ling.
Lawmakers so far appear more receptive to building the waste-to-energy incinerator than to extending the landfills.
But Wong said it was technically impossible to push for a second waste incinerator in the short term to fill the waste treatment gaps if his landfill extension plans were rejected.
While past environmental impact assessment studies had concluded that both Shek Kwu Chau and Tuen Mun were acceptable locations to house an incinerator, a permit had never been sought for the Tuen Mun site, he said.
This meant that if a second waste-burning plant were to be built, officials would have to start from scratch in order to comply with the latest environmental standards.
"Building another incinerator in Tuen Mun would require a new environmental impact assessment study since we have already upgraded the air quality objectives," Wong said.
The previous studies were approved in January 2012. The new air quality standard took effect earlier this year.