A $4 billion contract for reclamation work on the Disney site has been awarded to the Netherlands' biggest construction company after approval was given by the Environmental Protection Department. The decision means the tender's frontrunner - a four-member consortium including Zen Pacific Civil Contractors, which is at the centre of a piling scandal over buildings in Sha Tin - lost despite having submitted the lowest tender of $3.86 billion. The award of the contract sparked criticism from green activists, unhappy that the Government had endorsed the project without giving satisfactory answers to questions raised over two environmental reports. Director of Environmental Protection Robert Law said last night an environmental permit had been issued late last week for the reclamation project after the two reports were found to be satisfactory. 'There are no outstanding, significant issues remaining,' Mr Law said. He said the issuing of the permit was attached to conditions set by the Advisory Council on the Environment, which has also endorsed the reports, including the requirement of a trial fireworks display to check the impact on noise and air. A Works Bureau spokesman confirmed last night it had awarded the reclamation contract last Saturday to a consortium led by Hollandsche Beton Groep NV (HBG) at a cost of $3.97 billion. An official announcement would be made after arrangements for the contract signing had been prepared, the spokesman said. HBG will be the main contractor. Its bid was the second lowest of the seven tenders submitted. HBG's unit HAM owns 80 per cent of the joint venture, while Hong Kong Construction (Holdings) owns the remaining 20 per cent. The companies expect to begin work this month and complete the project by the end of 2002. Zen Pacific is still being investigated over the piling scandal at Home Ownership Scheme housing blocks in Yuen Chau Kok, Sha Tin, where the foundation piles were not sunk deeply enough. Zen Pacific claims it was the victim of large-scale organised fraud in the scandal as the work was carried out by subcontractor Hui Hon Contractors. The bureau's spokesman said factors other than tendering price were considered, including the bidders' technical and financial capabilities. But he stressed the piling scandal was not considered. Friends of the Earth, Hong Kong Dolphin Watch and the Citizens Party last night said they were unhappy their questions had not been properly answered. 'I think it's a great pity. The whole environmental impact assessment process is subjected to abuse and third parties have no right of appeal,' said Lisa Hopkinson of the Citizens Party.