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LCQ16: Development of EcoPark

     Following is a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam and a reply by the Acting Secretary for the Environment, Dr Kitty Poon, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):


     Phase I of the EcoPark in Tuen Mun Area 38 was originally scheduled for commissioning at the end of 2006, but the six lots in Phase I were not all leased out until May 2009.  It has been reported that the Government will spend at least $15 million to construct factory buildings and related infrastructural facilities for the two organisations which have rented the lots in Phase II of the EcoPark.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether :

(a) it knows when the business of the six tenants in Phase I of the EcoPark will commence operation; whether it has assessed the reasons for the delay of the tenants in Phase I of the EcoPark commencing business operations;

(b) it has assessed if the supporting facilities in the EcoPark are insufficient, if environmental problems such as the existence of methane are uncovered in the EcoPark, and if it needs to adjust the overall policy of the EcoPark;

(c) the monthly rental income from Phase I of the EcoPark is sufficient for covering the management costs of the EcoPark; and

(d) it has given subsidies to tenants of Phase II of the EcoPark; if so, of the reasons for that?

Reply :


(a) The EcoPark is one of the Government's initiatives to promote the local environmental and recycling industry.  It provides the industry with relatively cheap land and associated communal facilities to promote and encourage investment by upgrading of the industry.

     The EcoPark is a novel concept in Hong Kong, and its implementation is hampered by various constraints such as market situation and approaches adopted by the investors.  The development of the EcoPark is to facilitate the transformation of our traditional simple mode of recycling operation (i.e. collection, baling and exporting) into high value-added processes that comply with environmental and other statutory requirements.  The financial tsunami in 2008 had an impact on the recycling industry both in Hong Kong and on the Mainland in varying degrees.  Some EcoPark tenants have taken a more prudent approach in their investment and this has also affected progress.  

     At present, all six lots in EcoPark Phase I have been leased out, some after re-tendering, for the recycling of waste wood, used cooking oil, used computer equipment, waste plastics, waste metal and waste batteries.

     Similar to ordinary private plants, building plans for all the plants to be built in the EcoPark must be submitted for approval by the Buildings Department (BD).  All along, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has provided advice and assistance to the tenants to expedite the process.  Four tenants of the EcoPark had their building plans approved by the BD as at end-2009, and they are preparing to build the plants and recruit staff.  The first batch of the plants is scheduled for commissioning in early to mid-2010.

(b) The EcoPark provides tenants with ancillary facilities, such as roads, berths, drainage channels and sewers etc.  In addition, tenants are provided with conference and training facilities.  They can thus cut down on infrastructure expenditure and direct their capital more effectively to investment in furthering their business.

     As for handling landfill gas, the EcoPark is not located in a source of landfill gas.  However, parts of the EcoPark are close to the restored Siu Lang Shiu Landfill, thus preventive devices against landfill gas (such as the laying of plastic membrane) have to be put in place during construction.  The EPD also provides tenants with due technical assistance and advice on landfill gas.  These devices do not involve complex processes or materials.  With sound planning, such technical issues usually have no impact on the progress of the building of the plants.

     To achieve the objectives and effectiveness of the EcoPark, the EPD will continue to communicate with tenants and assist them with their problems where appropriate.  In the meantime, the tenancy terms of the Phase II lots are under review with a view to enhancing the attractiveness of the EcoPark to the industry.

(c) The total monthly rental from the six Phase I lots is $510,000.  Based on the average rental of Phase I lots, it can be deduced that when all the Phase II lots are leased out, the total monthly rental from Phase I and II lots can cover the management costs of the EcoPark.

(d) To cope with the impact of the financial tsunami on the local waste recycling market, the Government is setting up two waste collection and recycling centres in EcoPark Phase II targeting recycling materials with relatively limited demand, including waste electrical and electronic equipment and waste plastics which were quite hard hit by the financial tsunami earlier on.  The two centres will be run by two non-profit organisations selected through an open process with subsidy from the Environment and Conservation Fund.  This supporting measure serves to alleviate the negative impact on the Programme on Source Separation of Waste which has been implemented territory wide for many years and sustain the public's zeal in recycling.  

     The involvement of non-profit organisations in the waste plastics and waste electrical and electronic equipment handling and recycling centres in the EcoPark is a market-oriented supporting measure, an arrangement which the Government has made after considering the recommendations by the Task Force on Economic Challenges.  We believe that non-profit organisations have their role in environmental education and publicity.  It is our wish that they can co-operate with the recycling industry and give full play to their strengths to reinvigorate the current market and create a win-win situation for all parties.

     As for the development of the other lots in Phase II, the infrastructure works are underway.  The first batch of the lots is expected to be available for disposal in mid-2010.  The EPD will announce the arrangement for and details of the disposal of the lots in due course.  As stated in our reply in (b) above, the EPD is now reviewing the tenancy terms of the Phase II lots to enhance the attractiveness of the EcoPark to the industry.

Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:05


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