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Incinerator opponents granted legal aid


Cheung Chi-fai
May 11, 2012

Three people have won legal aid to mount court challenges to government plans for a massive waste incinerator beside an outlying island – even though the project is on hold.

Kwok Cheuk-kin and Leung Hon-wai, both Cheung Chau residents, and Ho Loy, who lives on Lantau, have filed three separate judicial reviews against the Environmental Protection Department project.

It is understood their cases will be heard initially at the High Court on June 7, during which environment officials will present evidence to argue that they should be halted. If the court grants leave to any of the cases, further hearings will be conducted.

The government had sought funding for the HK$23 billion, 3,000-tonne capacity incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau, near Cheung Chau, but said last month the request would not proceed in the life of the present government.

Five government decisions will be scrutinised in the three cases. They include the decisions of the Town Planning Board to adopt and the Executive Council to approve an outline zoning plan for Shek Kwu Chau and an artificial island next to it on which the burner would be built.

They will also question the Executive Council’s approval to authorise dredging and reclamation work off the southwest coast of Shek Kwu Chau, and the environment department’s decisions to approve the environmental impact assessment report and issue an environmental permit for the incinerator.

Ho said these decisions were all problematic and should be overturned.

“There are also questions of the independence of the consultant which carried out the study and why the government favoured Shek Kwu Chau though an alternative site in Tsang Tsui, Tuen Mun, was more suitable,” Ho said.

It is not certain whether the three will hire the same lawyer.

Kwok said he had contacted lawyer Albert Ho Chun-yan, but he sensed that the Democratic Party chairman and legislator was hesitant about taking the case, although he had not ruled it out.

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