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Advisory council gives green light to incinerator

South China Morning Post – 31 Dec. 2011

Residents and environmentalists opposing the construction of a super incinerator off Lantau have been dealt a blow after the government’s environmental advisory body officially endorsed the plan yesterday.

However, the endorsement has fuelled momentum for a looming legal challenge against the massive project to be built on 16 hectares of reclaimed land at Shek Kwu Chau, an island south of Lantau that for many years has housed a drug rehabilitation centre.

A retired solicitor and Lantau Island restaurant owner yesterday said he would seek a judicial review of the decision if the government continued to push ahead with their original plan to build the incinerator, which will be able to process 3,000 tonnes of rubbish a day.

The threat came as the Advisory Council on the Environment yesterday approved the multibillion-dollar project at a meeting yesterday, which means the authorities can proceed with the project if funding is approved by the Legislative Council.

As the meeting took place, about 50 opponents of the project staged a noisy protest outside.

It was the second attempt by the Environmental Protection Department to push through the project in the advisory body, after sidelining it during a court case relating to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge project earlier this year.

Environmentalists and other opponents to the project say the super incinerator, as one of the largest and most expensive of its kind in the world, is not the best option for waste management and would pose a threat to marine life in the area. The project will cost between HK$8 billion and HK$13 billion.

Eddie Tse, a member of the alliance opposing the incinerator, criticised the advisory council yesterday for hastily approving the project at a closed-door meeting.

Following the endorsement, which includes an option to build the facility in Tuen Mun, the EPD will finalise the plan and table it in the Legislative Council to seek funding.

Advisory council member Tsang Kam-lam said yesterday that the environmental assessment report so far had shown that the project would not harm its surroundings. He also admitted that some members preferred Tuen Mun as a location.

Tom Hope, who manages a restaurant at Cheung Sha Beach, said yesterday he and others would launch a judicial review if the government proceeds with the incinerator on the grounds that it has not adequately explored the best technology for waste management.

Hope yesterday sent a formal notice to the Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and members of the advisory council.

The Environmental Protection Department declined to comment on any legal challenge.

David Williams, 6, from Lantau, reads protesters' banners opposing the planned rubbish incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau.

David Williams, 6, from Lantau, reads protesters’ banners opposing the planned rubbish incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau.

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