The incinerator is back – but don’t give up on Shek Kwu Chau yet

The super-incinerator is back – not that it was ever completely canned – and in fact is inevitable, according to Environment Under-Secretary Christine Loh.
Citizens vs the Super-Incinerator

“We’re going to need treatment – we’re going to need a big one,” she told RTHK’s Backchat programme today.

But there’s good news as well bad news in the remarks by the former head of Civic Exchange, who has taken on board some lessons of the Shek Kwu Chau debacle.

First, she’s proposing a holistic approach to the city’s waste problem, rather than trying to solve it with a boondoggle.
 
Second, she promises the government will seek the best technology, and in fact was dismissive of what she termed the “dioxin-spewing” SKC facility.
 
Third, the government is a long way from deciding where any future incinerator will be built.
 
Loh said following CY Leung’s policy address last week, which had called for “an integrated waste treatment system,” the department would issue a waste management blueprint by the end of March.
 
We want to put all the things that HK has to do to have a modern waste reduction, waste separation, recycling, treatment, whether it’s incineration treatment technology as well as landfill. We want to put it on one piece of paper so that everyone can see what has to be done and why and when we might need to take certain decisions.
 
The paper would canvass what incineration would involve and “when do you have to do it, what kind of size do you really need, and people can have a chat about what different technologies are out there,” she said.
 
Loh said the government seek advice from experts on waste technology, and not just those who are selling the equipment.
 

The idea is that whatever technology we go for in the end, it’s going to be waste-to-energy, a much more updated scheme.

Bottom line is that Loh has pretty much completely reset the government’s waste management policy. You’d think her more considered approach makes it harder for proponents of Shek Kwu Chau, which was a fail on cost, technology, environmental impact, location and policy-making grounds.

But those have never been obstacles before, so let’s watch this space.

UPDATE: Here’s the audio of the Backchat session.

 

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