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Panel `no’ puts landfill plan on shaky ground

Hong Kong standard

Panel `no’ puts landfill plan on shaky ground

A lawmakers’ panel has said no to the expansion of the Tseung Kwan O landfill.

Candy Chan

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A lawmakers’ panel has said no to the expansion of the Tseung Kwan O landfill.

The non-binding motion at the Legislative Council’s panel on environmental affairs was passed with nine in favor, four against and no abstentions.

It came despite a warning from Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam- sing that without expansion of the landfill, Hong Kong will be overrun with garbage.

Landfill expansion is a key plank of the 10-year “Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources” aimed to reduce the rate of disposable waste by 40percent on a per-capita basis by 2022.

Wong insisted the HK$8.9 billion expansion, planned since 2003 to include three landfills, is needed even with recycling.

The government is seeking funding approval from Legco to expand the landfills in Ta Kwu Ling, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O, which are expected to be full by 2020.

The Tseung Kwan O landfill, which was to be expanded by 13 hectares, will be the first to hit saturation point next year or in 2015.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan, asked: “Have you even experienced the bad odor suffered by the people living near the sites?”

Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party said that in South Korea, 20 percent of municipal waste is still disposed of in landfills despite 60 percent of it being recycled and another 20 percent incinerated.

“The success that we can see in Taiwan and Japan has worked for decades. But Hong Kong in this early stage is working step by step towards the South Korean model,” Wong said.

Insurance lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who agreed with the government plan, fears the city will face more trouble if a decision on landfill expansion cannot be made. “We can’t risk putting the city to be surrounded by garbage, it would be a disaster,” Chan said.

Meanwhile, around 20 Tseung Kwan O residents protested outside Legco, urging the scrapping of the landfill plan.

They said the foul smell coming from the landfill is unbearable, and complained that it has severely worsened hygiene conditions in the area.

Residents warned they would seek a judicial review against the proposal.

Sai Kung district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan accused the environment secretary of threatening the public, and said the government should find an alternative site.

Friends of the Earth environmental affairs officer Celia Fung Sze-lai called for more support in general for the recycling industry.

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