Incinerator: FOE Says Impact Report Falls Short (SCMP)

i Dec 19th No Comments by

Burning questions on the choice of site remain unanswered

SCMP, Dec 19, 2011

By Edwin Lau Che-feng, director of general affairs at Friends of the Earth (HK) and a member of the Advisory Council on the Environment

Hong Kong people seem to be put off by incinerators because of their impression of such technology from the past – smoke-belching incinerator chimneys of the 1980s.

Today’s incineration technology has in fact advanced considerably, so only very low levels of dioxins and other pollutants are emitted. Instead, we should fear the plant’s destructive impact and wasteful capability if it is built as currently proposed by the Environmental Protection Department.

The environmental impact assessment report of the proposal to build an incinerator near Shek Kwu Chau has been resubmitted to the Advisory Council on the Environment for approval. The council is now scrutinising it, after one of its subcommittees endorsed it earlier this month.

Consideration of the incinerator plan was delayed by a legal challenge to the quality of the environmental report for a proposed bridge to Zhuhai and Macau. In that case, the Court of Appeal ruled that bridge works could proceed, but said the director of environmental protection should have the professional knowledge to ensure that the environmental impact of projects are kept to a minimum to safeguard public health.

The spirit of requiring an environmental impact assessment to be conducted is to allow the project proponent to apply the best practical means (including best technologies) to first avoid potential impact on the environment, and then to minimise any impact that is unavoidable.

As a member of the advisory council’s subcommittee that evaluated the incinerator reports, I registered my disagreement. I could see there was no major change in the resubmitted report to the questionable choice of the site for the proposed incinerator, nor proper consideration of the latest technologies being used elsewhere. Where is the mention of local corporations that want our garbage or their trials showing low emission levels? Is this due diligence by the director, who is supposed to be the department’s final gatekeeper?

In the proposal, the incinerator will perform basic sorting out of incoming waste, and the furnace will burn high-value resources, such as plastic, paper, metal and even food waste, to produce a little electricity. Will revenue from that electricity even cover the daily operating costs?

It appears that, once again, the department is attempting to hard-sell its questionable decision to locate the incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau.

The following questions are worthy of discussion.

First, the department has said the location of the incinerator off the island would not directly damage the land ecology of the island. Officials are right, but can it avoid permanent damage to the marine environment, or indirect damage to Shek Kwu Chau?

Second, the building of the incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau by 2018, rather than at Tuen Mun, the government’s second choice, will take two more years to complete. So what is the logic behind a choice that means over two million more tonnes of waste going into our landfills, not to mention the extra billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money that will be spent on the permanent destruction of the marine environment, on account of the reclamation?

Finally, the council’s subcommittee was asked to approve the environmental impact assessment reports for both options – Shek Kwu Chau and Tuen Mun – even though the government plans now to build only one incinerator. What is the motive behind that? Could it be that the department wants to avoid the hassle of getting approval for a second incinerator to cope with more garbage?

Without more waste-avoidance measures like charging for disposal, a landfill ban, producer responsibility schemes and community-wide education, then even a 3,000-tonne incinerator plant won’t be able to cope with the garbage generated by our wasteful lifestyles.




Dec 17 Deadline for Next Set of Objections to the SKC Incinerator

i Dec 17th No Comments by

The Living Islands Movement (LIM) urges opponents of the proposed super-incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau to get their letters of objection to the flawed Environmental Impact Report (EIA) in before a Saturday, December 17 deadline.

The full EIA is available at

LIM has produced a copy of a sample letter for objectors to adapt, and a paper setting various possible points of objection plus some questions. It is suggested that correspondents select two or three points from the paper that are the most pertinent to them.

It is advisable to include at least one question in your letter of objection so that government is obliged to reply.

Objections should be sent to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD).

Fax: 2174 0894

By mail to:
The EIA Ordinance Register Office
Environmental Protection Department
27/fl Southorn Centre
130 Hennessy Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong


SAMPLE LETTER ( click here to here to download the letter in MS Word or here for the Google doc version)


For the attention of the Environment Protection Department
Re: Development of the Integrated Waste Management Facilities Phase 1

I am writing to place on record my objection to, and comments on, the EIA for the Development of the Integrated Waste Management Facilities Phase 1.

This document makes it clear that incineration is the government’s main solution to Hong Kong’s waste problem. There should be a greater emphasis on reducing and recycling waste and encouraging more responsible behaviour. Incineration is the easiest, but most expensive and most harmful solution. This document should be withdrawn and replaced by a proper waste management strategy.

The EIA clearly indicates that Shek Kwu Chau is the least appropriate location of the sites reviewed, because of its remote location, distance from the sources of waste, no connection to the electricity grid, damage to eco-systems, high cost of building and longer lead time to build.

The decision to build the incinerator in this location therefore insults the common sense and intelligence of the tax payers of Hong Kong.

Furthermore, the south Lantau coast and Offshore Islands district has been reserved by the government for conservation and recreation. Why are these planning guidelines being ignored? Why is the incinerator not being built in an industrial zone?

I do not agree that the environmental impact of an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau is “acceptable”. Irreversible damage will be caused by sea-bed dredging and the natural habitats of a number of unique species will be destroyed. People on south Lantau and Cheung Chau are also concerned about their exposure to the cumulative dioxins and other toxins that result from the transportation and incineration of waste.

The decision to site an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau has been made without the production of any comparative cost calculations. Can you confirm that building an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau will take two years longer and cost approximately four times as much as the alternative at Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoons? This project cannot proceed until these facts are fully disclosed, and tax payers have been widely consulted.

[please add a sentence about how the incinerator will personally affect you – eg the views from your house, your leisure pursuits, your business]

[your name]

[your address]

Super-Incinerator: LIM’s Letter of Objection to the EIA

i Dec 14th No Comments by

Also available as a google doc here

14 December 2011

Dear Sirs,

Agreement Number CE 29/2008(EP)
Engineering Investigation and Environmental Studies for Integrated Waste Management Facilities (EIA)

Living Islands Movement (LIM) wishes to comment on and object to the captioned EIA in the following areas:

    Waste Management Strategy

We deplore the lack of progress in Municipal Solid Waste reduction at source, separation for recycling and reuse (the so-called “3Rs”) since the Policy Framework paper was published in 2005. As the EIA admits in paragraph, ‘Over the past years, the quantity of MSW generated in Hong Kong has been on an increasing trend’.

Clearly Hong Kong has a serious problem. We are notorious for our wasteful practices and for lack of public awareness or civic pride in our surroundings. Hence we see widespread littering of the countryside (often by government contractors), beaches and BBQ pits piled high with garbage at certain festivals, and large scale marine pollution impacting our coastlines.

Excessive packaging and the lack of manufacturer take-back programmes are among the reasons that Hong Kong has the highest per capita waste output in the World, estimated at about 1.36 tons per annum.

We are concerned that proposals to introduce waste charging in isolation will be counterproductive and lead to more illegal dumping (similar to the effect of construction waste charging).

We question the relevance of EPD’s figure for MSW recovery of 52%. It appears to relate to waste that is exported, in whatever form. Our everyday experience is that nothing like this amount is recovered from household waste at least, so perhaps it represents the “easy pickings” from large scale commercial sources.

The current provisioning around Hong Kong of some coloured recycling bins, limited to only three undifferentiated categories of waste, is wholly inadequate and there are serious doubts about whether much of even this is ever actually recycled.

LIM considers that the first priority must be to halt and reverse this malign trend of ever-increasing waste production. It is vital both to change attitudes by investing in public education and to provide the means and facilities for intensive engagement in modern waste reduction, separation and recycling practices. This requires a major effort on the part of government, backed up by appropriate legislation.

We think that the budget for the incinerator (however much that actually is) would be far better spent in this way. Further, there is a great opportunity to create thousands of jobs in the waste collection and recycling business in both public and private sectors. 

LIM’s position is that controversial and expensive large-scale incineration should only be considered, if absolutely necessary, once a comprehensive 3Rs regime has been implemented territory-wide.

    Incineration Technologies and Pollution


In the event that incineration becomes part of the waste disposal strategy, we believe more research is needed into the technology and style of individual operations. In general, we would favour smaller scale, dispersed operations using the latest (almost) pollution free technologies.

For now however, there are three reasons why we seriously question the apparently conservative but costly choice of the moving grate technology, on this large scale and in this remote location:

First, we note that the residue of incineration to be sent to landfill is stated in the EIA to be 30% of the input amount (see para 6b.4.1.55), of which one sixth will be highly toxic fly ash, requiring pre-treatment and cementation. (Specialist commentators estimate the likely output waste at 50% or more.)

Not only will this output waste be difficult to dispose of, posing a long term environmental hazard from mass leaching, it will also need to be transported back to the WENT landfill, thus more than negating the claimed marginal reduction of transportation distances. (By the same token, we question the wisdom of installing a 300 tpd mechanical waste separator at the remote location of Shek Kwu Chau, since the salvaged materials will need to be transported back to the urban areas).

Also, this reduction ratio is a very poor return for the amount of the investment and the amount of environmental damage caused.

Second, we also note that monitoring of the incinerator’s dioxin output will only take place on an “intermittent” basis (clarified by EPD’s testimony to the ACE sub-committee on 5 December 2011 to mean a sample of air coming from the incinerator stack taken quarterly ie once every 3 months for the first 12 months of operation, thereafter once every 6 months).

Given the controversy and extent of scientific and public fears surrounding the cumulative effects of dioxins in the environment and on humans, we consider this proposed ‘intermittent’ testing to be wholly inadequate and somewhat irresponsible. Further, there are no plans to monitor the recently identified threat from tiny PM1 and PM 2.5 particles.

Third, we understand that a recent study indicates that there is a possibility of smog forming from particles emitted by the smoke stack of the incinerator drifting over to the Airport and Tung Chung Town causing visibility problems for aircraft operations.

This is in addition to the air pollution that will likely be caused at Cheung Chau for the 25% of the year that the wind is blowing in that direction.

Other technologies have been dismissed by the EIA, apparently based on paper-based research dating back to 2002. Yet technology and thinking is moving on rapidly. The plasma gasification technology for example is gaining traction, while a number of countries are now moving away from old-style incineration altogether.

Whilst not attached to any particular technology, LIM has taken a special interest in plasma gasification which in the last year or so has received regulatory approval for significant quantities of urban MSW processing in North America and Europe.

The attached paper, prepared for LIM after consultation with Tetronics/APP of the UK, sets out how plasma gasification technology avoids the environmental downsides of the proposed incinerator (with no toxic emissions and no output waste sent to landfill) and enables a more modular and localized approach to Hong Kong’s waste problem, with greater energy conversion efficiencies enabling profitable operation even when not at full capacity.


A seemingly non-polluting and economical solution has also been proposed by Green Island Cement, yet the company has been led to believe that it is not going to be seriously considered, based on a cursory experiment conducted a few years ago that was hampered because the company was not permitted by EPD to take delivery of sufficient MSW to burn!


By the time the proposed incinerator comes into operation, further advances in alternative waste management technologies will make EPD’s current determination to replicate the conventional mass-burn incinerators of Singapore and Macau look all the more outmoded and foolish.
LIM believes that more time and effort should be given to developing innovative and flexible solutions, using the latest advances in technology, in partnership where appropriate with the private and academic sector. Hong Kong needs and deserves state-of-the-art waste management methods and technologies.

    Comparative Advantages of the Sites


Even if large-scale, geographically concentrated incineration were to be the only option available, we strongly disagree that it should be located in this part of the Islands District, for a range of economic, environmental and social reasons.

Overall, the EIA clearly points to Shek Kwu Chau as being the least appropriate location of the sites reviewed, on almost all conceivable criteria:

It requires large scale reclamation of an untouched marine environment, compared with the alternative site, an already formed site in a degraded industrial area at the aptly named Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoons (TTAL).

It requires extensive dredging to install a submarine cable to South Lantau coast for electricity transmission, which will cause irreversible environmental damage, compared with the minimal distance from TTAL to the adjacent Black Point Power Station.

It requires the creation of a special desalination plant. TTAL by contrast can be linked to the mains water supply.

Habitats of various species, particularly Finless Porpoises, White-bellied Sea Eagles and several types of coral will be adversely impacted. The EIA states that Shek Kwu Chau has a delicate eco-system with natural habitats for unique wildlife and marine life. The effectiveness of “mitigation measures” is highly uncertain. There are no such ecological issues at TTAL.

EPD envisages a need for one further IWMF of the capacity of 3000 tonnes of MSW per day (see its Legislative Council Brief of January 2011, file ref EP86/03/175A, para 12.) Because EPD is committing to limit the Shek Kwu Chau footprint, the obvious place to build such a further incinerator is TTAL.

TTAL has the site capacity for both incinerators. If it is to be the site of an incinerator in any event, TTAL should be the site of the first incinerator, because the environmental downsides of building there are so much less.

Permanent loss of 31 hectares of fishery and 15.9 hectares of fish spawning grounds is expected. There are no fisheries at TTAL.

Transportation distance by sea for waste is claimed to be slightly less, but this depends on the chosen starting point and ignores the existing transport networks that currently deliver by various routes to WENT. The effect of greatly increased barge traffic in sea lanes near Cheung Chau and South Lantau is not assessed.

We are particularly concerned about the potential for damaging spillages. TTAL is close to WENT so onward remission of output waste will involve minimal transportation, in contrast to Shek Kwu Chau where the total transportation of input and output waste will be nearly double that for TTAL.

Visual impacts are “moderate/substantial” particularly along the South Lantau Coast, affecting residents and visitors using the beaches and hills for recreational activities. The effect on property values and businesses catering to recreational and tourist activities are not assessed. That the site is very close to the main Macau Ferry route, via a narrow neck of the Adamasta Channel, is a further issue.

The lead time to commissioning (now 2019) is at least two years longer than the alternative. This is inconsistent with EPD’s stated urgent need.

Of course, the costs of construction at Shek Kwu Chau will be very significantly higher than that of the alternative site, although the EPD have so far declined to produce comparative costs.

In addition to all these disadvantages, LIM considers that it is highly inappropriate from a good planning perspective to site an industrial facility of this type in this area. The South Lantau Coast and Offshore Islands district is the last unspoilt area on the West side of the SAR, and the government’s own strategic development plans have long stated that it will be reserved for conservation and recreation.

    Decision Making Process


As described above, it is clear from the EIA that on all objective criteria Shek Kwu Chau should be the least preferred site, yet EPD choose to ignore these facts and instead base their decision on other grounds, none of which stand up to rational analysis.

We refute the four reasons given by EPD for selecting Shek Kwu Chau as follows:

EPD claims that the NE prevailing wind direction is a unique advantage to Shek Kwu Chau, yet this is exactly the same situation for the other site. Further, when the wind is in the opposite direction (for 25% of the year) it will blow pollution directly over Cheung Chau with a population of 25,000 persons, and a very popular local tourist destination. At TTAL, there is no such risk. This is therefore a misleading and irrelevant claim.

EPD claims that siting the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau will lead to a “better spatial distribution of such facilities”. We find this statement utterly incomprehensible. Sound economics and good planning practice should seek to optimise efficiency and synergies by siting close to the sources of waste and/or adjacent to complementary activities, i.e. in industrial zones.

There seems to be a misplaced notion that it is only “fair” to extend the waste footprint of Hong Kong to all points of the compass. To accept this idea would set a dangerous precedent for justifying widespread environmental destruction on this “beggar my neighbour” basis.

EPD claims that the carbon emissions from transporting waste to Shek Kwu Chau will be less than to the other site. This is based on the assumption that road transport will still be needed for sending waste to the alternative site, when a new jetty could easily be built.

It also overlooks the cumulative transport requirements of sending the incinerator’s output waste to landfill which make TTAL the more convenient site by a large margin. Therefore this is another misleading and incorrect reason.


EPD claims that the IWMF at Shek Kwu Chau will be a tourist attraction creating a few hundred jobs. Clearly this is not a unique advantage to this site as it would be true wherever such a facility is built.


Further, it ignores the potential negative impact on tourism in South Lantau and Cheung Chau arising from industrialisation. For example, how are the fishermen of Cheung Chau supposed to engage in eco-tourism (as proposed by EPD in reporting to the ACE sub-committee on 5 December, referencing its successful uptake by the fishing communities of Sai Kung) when their boats cannot go near the incinerator without risk of dioxin ingestion? Again, this is an irrelevant and misleading justification.

The real reason, as stated by EPD to objectors at the public meeting held in Pui O on 25 November, is that EPD perceives Tuen Mun as already having enough pollution. This is why EPD now maintains the polluting effect of this incinerator should go where the air is clearer – to a pristine stretch of coast designated a conservation area suitable for eco-tourism and leisure activities.

We also suspect that the narrowing down of the proposed incinerator sites to just two for in-depth assessment was premature. We have already raised the Green Island Cement proposal.

In addition, the EIA mentions another possible site next to the Power Station on Lamma Island (Hei Ma Wan), an already degraded area and a logical location for a waste-to-energy facility. Yet this site was apparently rejected based on the incorrect statement that there would be visual impact to residents of Hong Kong Island, when in fact it will be hidden from view since it is on the West Side of Lamma Island.

LIM is of the view that further investigation is warranted into these two alternative locations before a final decision is taken. We also consider that a legal challenge of the decision to select Shek Kwu Chau could well succeed since it is not based on reasonable criteria. EPD’s statutory duty is to minimise the impact of such projects on the environment and this decision is not in our view compatible with that duty.

    Government Process


The EPD has apparently decided that it wants to site the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau without having produced any comparative cost calculations. It is suspected that the actual cost of the Shek Kwu Chau option will be HK$12-13 billion, or 4x the cost of the alternative locations. We find this an extraordinary lapse in good government and irresponsible to the taxpayers.

The decisions both to build a large-scale incinerator and to site it at Shek Kwu Chau have very serious implications for the whole of Hong Kong. There are many different stakeholders including residents and visitors from all over the territory who come for a range of recreational activities such as hiking, cycling and water sports.

The impact on South Lantau tourism and property values has not been factored in. Many have genuine fears about dioxins and toxic waste that is cumulative in the human body as well as marine and animal life. There is also an impression that government wants to hide Hong Kong’s waste problem in a supposedly remote location instead of dealing with the root causes and facilitating the public to adopt modern environmentally friendly practices.

In conclusion, LIM believes this EIA should be rejected until the many issues raised above have been fully investigated and resolved. At the very least we demand a full public consultation on waste management strategy for territory.

Yours faithfully,

Louise D Preston
Living Islands Movement



LIM Cites Outmoded Technology, No Cost Analysis as Reasons to Scrap Incinerator

i Dec 11th No Comments by

The Living Islands Movement (LIM) cited the lack of a proper cost analysis and the choice of outmoded incinerating technology as two major reasons the government should scrap the proposed incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau immediately.

The demands for the project to be shelved were contained in a press release issued on November 23 and reproduced below:

For Immediate Release


November 23, 2011 – The Living Islands Movement (LIM) today called for all Hong Kong people to protest against the Government’s plan to build a super-incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau at an estimated cost of HK$13 billion, HK$10 billion higher than the alternatives.

‘The Government proposal effectively tips $10 billion of taxpayer money into the South China Sea,” said LIM chair Louise Preston. ‘That’s $2,000 per Hong Kong resident. For no apparent good reason.”

LIM vice-chair Michael Pratt added: ‘The Shek Kwu Chau site makes no economic or environmental sense. There are alternatives that involve pre-despoiled sites, involve no damage to marine life or risk of prevailing winds carrying emissions to any populated
areas of Hong Kong and are reachable by land as well as sea. But on cost alone, there are far cheaper options.”

LIM expressed grave concerns that the Government has yet to produce any cost-based analysis to justify its preference for Shek Kwu Chau.

“Our own estimates of cost come from members of LIM with professional expertise,” said Louise Preston, “and the Government has not disputed them. It is extraordinary that a construction project of this scale is being put forward without first confirming the likely cost.”

LIM’s call for action follows the Government’s reissue last Friday November 18 of its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) declaring two sites “acceptable”, but which the Government has inexplicably taken as an endorsement of its proposal to build a 3,000 tons-per-day waste incinerator on reclaimed land near Cheung Chau, in full view of South Lantau’s hills and beaches and to travellers on the Macau Ferries.

Interested parties have one month to comment.

Underlining its concerns about the site selection process for what has been dubbed “the world’s most expensive bonfire”, LIM maintains that the government’s proposed incinerator technology and overall waste management strategy are deeply flawed.


‘This super-incinerator uses outmoded technology,” said Louise Preston. “Incinerators with plasma arc furnaces are being built now in the EU and America more quickly, more cheaply and with no toxic emissions. The Green Island Cement proposal -– using waste to
fuel its cement kilns — will cost the Government nothing, can be operational by 2014, processes more waste than this proposed super-incinerator and also has no toxic emissions.”

‘The Government says it has been planning this incinerator for a decade, so perhaps that’s why its thinking seems boxed-in to the last decade. We’ve talked to experts in these countries who say the Government’s proposed technology generates ash waste laden with
toxins requiring careful disposal with a real risk, over time, of entering the food chain and presenting the Government with much greater waste disposal issues than those it now faces.

“This may be acceptable to the authors of the EIA but it’s not acceptable for Hong Kong and its people.”

Despite decades of studies and consultations there has been no material progress in Hong Kong in developing integrated waste reduction, separation, recycling and reuse systems that have become culturally ingrained in other advanced societies including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

As a result, thousands of sustainable jobs and new business opportunities have been lost and Hong Kong has developed an unenviable reputation as a wasteful, polluting community.

Overturning the main conclusions of its own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study, the EPD proposes to adopt the most expensive, time-consuming and environmentally damaging option, instead of applying its energies to educating the public and legislating for comprehensive waste reduction and recycling.

Ignoring its own strategic plans for the southwest New Territories, the Government is proposing to extend the industrial, urban footprint of Hong Kong deep into the main area previously reserved for recreation and conservation, to the dismay of the many nature lovers, hikers, cyclists, and visitors from all over Hong Kong and overseas, as well as local residents.

“The Government is right to say waste management is a territory-wide issue requiring integrated management. But this super-incinerator proposal is the opposite — a disintegrated, misinformed and ultimately very costly approach, for every Hong Kong resident.

It’s in the interests of every Hong Konger to protest this proposal,” Louise Preston said.

LIM urged those who oppose the proposal to attend a public meeting organized by the Environment Protection Department for this Friday 25 November 25, 2011 at Pui O School on South Lantau from 6 pm to 8pm.

LIM also urged opponents to write to the Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah expressing their concerns and asking for broader public consultation on a territory-wide basis before the Government deadline for public consultation expires on December 17, 2011.

For further information visit the LIM website on

For press enquiries, contact Louise Preston by e-mail at

Representatives of LIM will also be available for press comment immediately

SCMP Letters: Questions on Incinerator Unanswered

i Dec 10th No Comments by

From Julia Brown, Lantau
SCMP, Dec 10, 2011

It is astonishing that the Advisory Council on the Environment can approve the ill-conceived plan by the Environmental Protection Department for a super-incinerator off Lantau Island (“Incinerator project gets green light a second time”, December 6).

This is not just because the plan is risible and the department hasn’t divulged the cost to the Hong Kong public – but because the council asked all the right questions at its meeting and got no satisfactory answers from the department.

Council members asked salient questions about alternative technology, the impact on the pristine environment and why the new plan offered only very minor, cosmetic changes to the original.

The department’s responses were worse than inadequate. As with their farcical “public consultations”, they cannot justify their plans with scientific, technological, financial or environmental sense.

Yet even after what this newspaper calls “fresh scrutiny” by the council, its members still approved the plan.

With advisers and environmental protectors like these, who needs destroyers?

Hong Kong can look forward to yet more pollution, worsening air quality, the destruction of pristine marine and green areas and the creation of a vast concrete eyesore.

All this is brought to us at a financial cost so large that our own government won’t tell its taxpayers how much until after the project is pushed through.

Updated: Vocal Opponents Pack Public Meeting On Proposed Super-Incinerator

i Nov 27th No Comments by


  • Accuse government of “hardselling” project rather than listening to objections
  • Slam “Done Deal” on site choice
  • Abhor choice of toxins-emitting technology over safer, modern versions

Click on PUBLIC MEETING TAB for story

{tab=Public Meeting; Nov 25, 2011}


Lantau resident Bob Bunker of LIM points out the flaws in the EPD’s Super-Incinerator proposal. Photo: Mark Parlett/LIM

A public consultation called by the government which plans to construct a controversial super-incinerator on unspoilt Shek Kwu Chau attracted a vocal and well-organised lobby of opponents to plans to build what they describe as “the world’s most expensive bonfire”.

More than 150 people crammed into a Pui O primary school on Friday evening determined to ensure the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was left in no doubt whatsoever of the depth of opposition to a 3,000-tonne rubbish-burning facility on the neighbouring island, a lightly inhabited area of outstanding natural beauty.

Spearheaded by members of the Lantau-based Living Islands Movement (LIM), participants argued that incineration should be the last, not the first resort for solving Hong Kong’s waste disposal problem.

“We are very glad that the people finally had their chance to express their concerns about this misguided project,” LIM chairman Louise Preston said.


The incineration technology earmarked by the government is outdated and would give off far more toxic emissions than more up-to-date incinerators fitted with plasma arc furnaces, LIM said.

Elvis Au, EPD

LIM, which led the successful campaign against a decision to build a super-prison on Hei Ling Chau in 2004, accused the government of rushing through the Shek Kwu Chau plan in violation of its own planning and consultation policies, and of failing to conduct a proper cost analysis of the plan.

Residents of Cheung Chau, as well as green groups, environmental activists and ordinary, unaffiliated citizens also oppose the Shek Kwu Chau option.

The EPD team of nine was led by Elvis Au, Assistant Director and P.H. Lui, a Principal Environmental Protection Officer in the EPD. Also present was David Lui, the Regional Managing Director of AECOM, the consultancy company advising the EPD.


Incensed by what she described as the EPD’s determination to “sell” the project rather than truly listen to public opinion, one Lantau resident emptied a bag of local rubbish at Elvis Au’s feet.

PH Lui, EPD.

“We were lied to by the government. That’s why we’re upset. We’ve been tricked and are dis-informed all the time,” said Paul Melsom, a horticulturalist and Lantau resident.

Tempers flared when Au said the EPD would approach the Legislative Council for funds to start dredging at Shek Kwu Chau. Members of the audience accused the government of a done deal in selecting Shek Kwu Chau before completing the requirement to consult public opinion and of starting work early in order to declare a fait accompli.

[Continued below the photo album. Photographs by Mark Parlett of LIM]

Parlett, a resident of Pui O, said he was exasperated by EPD stonewalling.

“We have asked again and again for a proper explanation for why they have chosen SKC when the alternative would take less time to build, would be much cheaper, would not endanger any wildlife nor despoil any beautiful landscape,” he said,

“Today we received the same bland platitudes and obfuscation … when will they [the EPD] finally come out with the truth?”

Campaigners say a range of ash lagoons at an already degraded site in Tsang Tsui, over a hilly range from Tsuen Mun, would be a cheaper, more efficient and logical choice; the necessary infrastructure is already in place at the lagoons, which serve CLP’s Black Point power station.

The Tsang Tsui choice would have an impact on fewer people — the lagoons are shielded by three mountain ranges and are more than six km from the nearest population cluster, Tsuen Mun.

Building a facility at Shek Kwu Chau requires land to be reclaimed from the sea and would cost HK$10 billion more than the Ash Lagoon option. The artificial island eyesore would be located only three km from Cheung Chau, in full view of south Lantau’s hills and beaches and to travellers on the Macau ferries.

A Noisy Meeting

Friday’s consultation was a noisy one, interspersed with chants from the audience and some heckling.

Members of the audience criticised Au and the EPD for failing to provide a translator to facilitate discussion and for the absence of a microphone at first and for failing to make a note of queries and opinions.


“The Government proposal effectively tips $10 billion of taxpayer money into the South China Sea,” said Preston of LIM. ‘That’s $2,000 per Hong Kong resident. For no apparent good reason.”

A government-commissioned Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, reissued on November 18, declares both Shek Kwu Chau and Tsang Tsui to be “acceptable” sites for the incinerator.


Despite citing the obvious advantages of selecting Tsang Tsui over Shek Kwu Chau, government documentation and plans plumped for Shek Kwu Chau at the earliest stage, suggesting a done deal.

LIM said it would continue to press the EPD for wider and more open public consultations while continuing to demand a more modern and holistic approach to Hong Kong’s waste management challenges.

THE EPD will hold another public consultation on Cheung Chau on Monday, November 28.


{tab=Proposed Incinerator Pix}

Picture: Aecom

Renditions of the view of the Shek Kwu Chau Incinerator from four spots on South Lantau: Cheung Sha, Pui O and Tong Fuk beaches and the Lantau Trail.

Click on the slideshow below to view in full-screen mode.

Extracted from Volume 4 – Figures (PDF version) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report prepared by Aecom for the Hong Kong Government. Each set of pictures shows before (unmitigated) construction, one year and 10 years after construction. The one and 10-year views appear identical.


More Articles on The Proposed Super-Incinerator





Urgent: LIM Requires Volunteers To Spread Word About Incinerator Public Consult On Nov 25

i Nov 10th No Comments by

From The Living Island Movement (LIM):

Lim urgently needs volunteers to hand out leaflets to raise awareness and ensure a good turn out for the EPD‘s (Environmental Protection Department) Public Consultation Meeting on Friday, November 25.

Anyone available at any of the following times, or who can suggest other good targets, please contact Mark urgently at
Cantonese speakers are especially welcome.

  • Friday, November 18: Central — 5 to 7.30 pm to catch early commuters
  • Saturday, November 19: Central Pier 6 — 10.30 am to 1.50 pm to catch day trippers and people coming for lunch. And in Mui Wo for the corresponding ferry arrivals
  • Sunday, November 20:

Pui O — noon till 3 pm to catch junk and day trippers
Cheung Sha beach — noon till 3 pm to catch junk and day trippers
Mui Wo — 3.30 to 6.45 pm. DB and main ferry piers to catch returning walkers and day trippers

Any other time and place that you believe will be effective.

Depending on public response, LIM may also need volunteers on Monday to Thursday next week.

Mark Parlett
Secretary, LIM

Nov 25: Public Meeting

i Nov 9th No Comments by

Dear Friends,

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has organised a meeting for residents of South Lantau to discuss their concerns about the proposed Shek Kwu Chau Super-Incinerator at a public meeting at Pui O Public School on Friday, November 25 from 6 pm to 8 pm.

This meeting has been called as a result of the many objections that were received in response to the notice issued on April 29, 2011 of the proposed dredging and reclamation for building the artificial island for the incinerator off Shek Kwu Chau (directly facing Tong Fuk, Cheung Sha and Pui O beaches), and for the under-sea cabling that would be required to connect the proposed incinerator with the electricity grid in Cheung Sha.

  • Date: Friday, November 25, 2011
  • Time: 6-8 pm
  • Venue: Pui O (Bui O) Public School, Pui O

This meeting is the very first time that we, the people who will be most directly affected by this totally misconceived ‘solution’ to Hong Kong’s entire waste management problem, have the opportunity to publicly voice our concerns.

We urge you – and your friends, neighbours and colleagues — to attend this meeting. So please forward this email to anyone who might be concerned about the potential transportation and incineration of ALL of Hong Kong’s rubbish to an artificial island just off the beautiful South Lantau coast.

The application to start the dredging for the land reclamation and cabling is the thin end of the wedge. If that assent is in place, the location of a super-incinerator for all of Hong Kong’s waste in the pristine neighbourhood of South Lantau becomes one step closer to being a certainty.

The EPD has requested that attendees complete this registration form [ EPD Pui O meeting form ] to signal attendance at the consultation meeting on November 25. Please send the completed form by November 21 by fax to 2591-0636 or by e-mail to:

Urgent: Super-Incinerator

i Oct 22nd No Comments by

We are anticipating that the Environment Impact Assessment for siting Hong Kong’s super incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau could be re-issued any day. From that moment, there will be a very short time frame in which to make objections.

We therefore encourage all members and friends to send letters to the press and government voicing their objections immediately. The more letters received, the greater the impact.

To aid your effort, we have produced:

1. A set of the issues that led to the decision to build an incinerator and the selection

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of Shek Kwu Chau for its site. Please adapt any of these points as you wish.

2. A list of appropriate government officials and media contacts, along with their addresses. Please also send letters to any other contacts that you may have – media or government.


Issues – MS Word Issues – Text file Contacts – MS Word Contacts – Text file


Many thanks for your support in maintaining the pressure on the Government to reconsider their ill-advised decision on the Super Incinerator.

— The LIM Committee




Oct 23/30: Sustainability Fair

i Oct 17th No Comments by


A group of eco-friendly enthusiasts will hold a Sustainable Living Fair in Mui Wo on the next two consecutive Sundays.

It seeks to encourage people to consume more local produce and support local farmers.

It also provides an opportunity for local residents to meet up and get to know our neighbours better in this multi-cultural community.

  • Dates: Sunday, October 23 and 30
  • Time: 8 am to noon 1 pm to 6 pm The Workshop, Rural Committee Road (Opposite the Rural Committee Office)
  • Location: Outside Mui Wo wet market The Workshop, Rural Committee Road (Opposite the Rural Committee Office)
  • Contact: Sui Ming – e-mail: / tel: 6020-8829

There will be organic produce for sale: roquette (arugula/rocket), Thai ginger (kha), fresh turmeric, lemon grass, herbs, hand-made soap, organic coconut oil, organic home-made bread, fresh home-made pasta, home-made snacks, cow dung compost and much more.

Local bee keepers will join us to share information about bee keeping.

Please bring along your own homemade/handmade eco friendly products, to swap or to give away second-hand items such as books and CD/VCDs or even small pieces of furniture.

Please come and join us to have a pleasant and relaxing Sunday morning. Or just come to chill out!

Contact Siu Ming if you wish to set up a stand.