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Objections To Sludge Incinerator Overriden – Officials Seek Funding For Tuen Mun Project

Agnes Lam, SCMP – Apr 23, 2009

The government will press ahead with plans for a sludge incinerator in Tuen Mun despite strong opposition from the district council and residents.

About 80 residents holding banners and chanting slogans greeted Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah yesterday outside the Tuen Mun Government Offices, as he attended a district council meeting about the plan.

“No sludge incinerator! Better planning for Tuen Mun!” they shouted as they submitted a letter to the minister voicing their discontent.

Two motions were passed objecting to the project and calling for the government not to seek funds from the Legislative Council until it had committed itself to better planning for the district, which sees itself as a dumping ground for industries no one else wants.

But Mr Yau said later the project was urgent and discussions with the council and residents could go on while the government pressed ahead with seeking funding of HK$4 billion.

District councillor Chan Shu-ying said: “We expressed objection even when the government told us it planned to do an environmental assessment for the project. We will object to this sludge incinerator project.

“The Tuen Mun Development Liaison Working Group set up in March had its first meeting in the same month and 10 suggestions were raised during the meeting for the better development of Tuen Mun. Nothing has been done and no consensus has been reached, but now the government wants to dump an incinerator here.”

Another district councillor, Ho Hang-mui, accused the government of ignoring the views of residents and councillors on the project.

“The government has no respect for Tuen Mun District Council at all. If the environmental assessment report says how pretty and harmless the facility will be then the government should build it in West Kowloon so that members of the public can see it and have access to its education and resources centre to learn about it,” Ms Ho said.

Executive councillor Lau Wong-fat, the district council’s chairman, also called on the government to delay its plan to seek funds.

“I really think the government should give us all more time to discuss it,” he said. “Does it have to be so urgent? More time is needed for talking to residents. When legislators learn that we object to the plan, that will not be good for the government.” The Environment Bureau will seek funding from Legco’s public works subcommittee and Finance Committee next month.

Mr Yau said: “The government will continue to engage in talks with the district council about introducing better planning for Tuen Mun. The discussion can work at the same time with the administration seeking funds from the Legco. There is an urgency to build the facility, as the amount of sludge handled now is 800 tonnes and the amount will go up to 1,500 tonnes in 2014.” Mr Yau said the government would explain more about the project to ease the worries of councillors and residents.

A better environment

Tuen Mun District Council’s 10-point wish list for development

  • Strengthen the railway connection between Tuen Mun and other parts of the city and the mainland by including the district on the West Rail line and Hong Kong-Shenzhen railway
  • Improve traffic by broadening some roads
  • Revitalise Tuen Mun industrial area
  • Better planning for Zone 38, site of many unpopular facilities
  • Start a cross-border ferry service
  • Scrap a proposal to build a crematorium in Zone 36 and improve economic planning
  • Install air quality monitors
  • Replan and develop clinics
  • Roll out more greening projects
  • Make Castle Peak Bay a tourist spot

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