Landfill to take strip of Clear Water Bay park Environment officials yesterday were given the green light to extend a landfill in Tseung Kwan O after the country park authority took what it described as a 'bitter decision' to allow encroachment into the Clear Water Bay Country Park. The extension to provide more space to dump waste will lead to a temporary occupation of a 5-hectare strip within the popular park, which officials said is of low ecological value and inaccessible to hikers. The Country Park and Marine Park Board has set conditions that will require the site to be restored in phases and returned to the country park within eight years. Further approval from the Advisory Council on the Environment and funding from the legislature are required before the actual works can start. Debating the controversial proposal yesterday, the board also urged the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau to step up its waste incinerator, recycling and producer-responsibility schemes. Board chairman Chau Kwai-cheong described the endorsement as a 'bitter decision' made in the interest of the community in the fight against a growing waste problem. But the board also said it would not set a precedent for further extensions, adding it took the government at its word and trusted it would honour its promises. 'The board basically doesn't want any encroachment into the park but we also have to consider that the waste problem is a community-wide problem and we have to take into account public interest,' he said. A total of 35 hectares of land next to the existing landfill will be turned into a waste dump, including five hectares within the park, to provide 17 million cubic metres of space for the dump. Professor Chau said the board noted that without the extension, waste would have to be diverted to two other landfills in north New Territories and Tuen Mun, which might lead to more traffic and pollution. According to the environment bureau, the alternative to the encroachment would require the loss of an extra 19 hectares at Tseung Kwan O 137 Area to the south, where there are strong competing land uses. It also warned that the Tseung Kwan O landfill would be full by 2011-12, while the other two landfills, which would also be extended, were likely to be full by the middle of the next decade. The three landfills received more than 6 million tonnes of waste last year. Board member Lo Wing-lok said the endorsement set a bad precedent for development within country parks and would provide an excuse for officials to delay a decision on a waste incinerator project. 'Country parks are under legal protection and yet the government takes the lead to spoil it,' he said. But board member Yau Wing-kwong said it was an acceptable trade-off given the waste problem facing the city. 'The country park remains as sacred and untouchable and I swear to fight against any encroachment if it is about property development.'