Taxpayers are being asked to pay about $8,600 a day for a British judge to hear the KCRC's appeal on the Lok Ma Chau spur line project, which was blocked by the Government in October on the grounds it would cause too much environmental damage. Mr Justice Barry Mortimer has been appointed to chair the hearing, scheduled to be held early next month, after Environmental Impact Assessment Appeal Board chairman Ruy Barretto removed himself because he had expressed opinions on the issue. Mr Justice Mortimer, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, will be paid $7,025 a day, on top of a daily hotel allowance of $1,600, and a fee of $8,870 for writing the decision of the appeal board. He will also be paid a business-class return air fare to London, estimated at $48,000. The $7 billion rail link was rejected because it cut through the Long Valley wetland. According to an Environment and Food Bureau document, the hearing could cost taxpayers $580,000, assuming it lasts for two months. The document says: 'Having regard to the weight of the case, a non-permanent Hong Kong judge of the Court of Final Appeal was considered.' The remuneration package will go before the Legco environmental affairs panel on Tuesday. Panel member Michael Mak Kwok-fung, non-affiliated, said the amount was reasonable. 'Environmental protection certainly costs money. I believe most people would support paying for a quality judge to hear this important case.' Another member, Cyd Ho Sau-lan of the Frontier, agreed, adding: 'Basically the cost of living in Hong Kong is high. I don't think the panel would say no to the package.'