Green campaigners yesterday applauded a record fine for a construction company that illegally dumped waste at sea. Judge Chua Fi-lan in the District Court, yesterday, fined Fanta Construction Company $290,000 for dumping illegal construction waste in Chinese waters - a record amount for the territory. The firm had denied the offence. 'This could start the other judges on a green-thinking path,' Friends of the Earth chairman Mei Ng Fong Siu-mei said. 'This strong fine sends back the correct message to the community.' On January 16 last year Fanta was caught by Environmental Protection Department officers picking up construction waste from an unapproved site and dumping it at its legal dumping spot in Chinese waters. The officers had watched a truck dump waste from a construction project in Central at the jetty used to transport material from a Western Harbour construction site. It was then taken by barge to the dumping site at Nei Ding Dao. Fanta was charged with illegal dumping at sea because it did not have government permission to dump waste from sites other than the Western Harbour Tunnel project. 'It is not just a question of health,' Judge Chua said. 'You can't willy-nilly dump things. It is a harbour and it is a sea road.' The judge reprimanded the company - which has nine previous convictions for environmental offences. She said in the past they had been let off lightly. Fanta was fined $200,000 in August 1994 for a similar offence. Green Power spokesman Alex Yan Wing-lok said he was encouraged by the fine, but remained sceptical about the effect of fines. 'There are companies that dump at sea and would think nothing of a $300,000 fine,' he said.