Row heats up over fate of Hunghom Peninsula flats The heat was turned up yesterday in the row over the demolition of the Hunghom Peninsula development, with a government minister and an executive councillor blasting the plan. Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said it would be wasteful and a violation of environmental principles to pull down the seven tower blocks containing 2,470 flats that have never been occupied. Executive Councillor Cheng Yiu-tong described the plan as 'a very big joke' that would only benefit property developers. They were speaking a day after New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties said they would proceed with the demolition to make way for luxury apartments. Despite the fierce criticism, it was apparent that neither the government nor the legislature can do anything to stop the demolition, which is expected to start next June. 'From the environmental protection angle, it is a waste to demolish Hunghom Peninsula and is totally against environmental protection principles. I absolutely do not support [it],' Dr Liao said. Asked about the developers' claims that more than 95 per cent of building waste could be recycled, Dr Liao said: 'If I were they, I would hope to create zero waste.' She said she had yet to receive detailed plans from the developers and pledged to monitor developments. A government spokesman would not say whether Dr Liao had opposed the sale of the estate, which occurred in February after flat sales under the Home Ownership Scheme were suspended. Other officials and legislators also attacked the plan. The main parties also said they opposed creating unreasonable waste. Green groups held a demonstration demanding the government halt the plans for the massive demolition. A spokesman for Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung - the minister responsible for the policy of halting the sale of public flats that led to the sale of the empty blocks to developers - said: 'Nobody wants to pull down the flats, but we really have to achieve a balance.' The bureau said a land premium must be paid if the layout plan were changed when the project was redeveloped. But Tony Tse Wai-chuen, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, said the government could not seek more money as long as the gross floor area of the new buildings did not exceed that of the original buildings.