Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Swift action vital to solve Hong Kong’s garbage crisis

Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 12:00am

CommentInsight & Opinion


SCMP Editorial

Garbage disposal in a wasteful city like Hong Kong has proved to be a challenge. After a series of setbacks in expanding the landfills, there is finally some good news for the government. Last week the High Court ruled against a resident who was trying to stop the construction of a massive offshore waste incinerator on an island south of Lantau. The judge dismissed claims that the environmental impact assessment was flawed, saying the proposed mitigation measures met the relevant requirements.

The ruling is no doubt a relief for environment chief Wong Kam-sing. The beleaguered minister was dealt a heavy blow when he failed to push through proposals to expand three near-saturated landfills early this month. It remains unclear when the HK$15 billion incinerator project will be tabled to Legco again, barring a possible appeal by the resident. But Wong must be happy to see the green study upheld in court. It is to be hoped that the ruling will remove the uncertainties ahead and give officials a firm legal footing to move forward.

However, it would be naive to assume plain sailing ahead. Like landfill expansion, incineration is unpopular. But they are essential components of the city’s waste management strategy, along with a future garbage disposal charge. If the landfill proposals are anything to go by, the proposed incinerator will run into plenty of objections. There may be less opposition from residents because of the offshore location, but the impact on public health remains a major concern. The involvement of massive land reclamation in a marine habitat for finless porpoises is also bound to stir controversy.

The incinerator will take eight years to build. With the landfill expansion in limbo and the waste disposal charge not in place until 2016, it makes sense to get on with the project sooner rather than later. Officials should carefully assess the situation and re-table funding requests for the incinerator and landfills in due course. Residents and lawmakers should also drop their not-in-my-backyard mentality and support the plans.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *