Hong Kong sets aside HK$1 billion for landfill reclamation drive
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on June 20, 2014.
As the environment minister hoped for a bullseye at the archery range, elsewhere in Ngau Chi Wan Park some elderly folk were doing exercises and children skipped happily.
But this open space in the heart of the crowded residential district of Wong Tai Sin was not always so serene.
In its former life as a landfill site, it housed the daily mountain of rubbish discarded by throwaway-happy Hongkongers.
The park is built on one of 13 restored landfill sites in various districts from Kwun Tong to Tai Po. The sites were restored between 1997 and 2006.
Six of the sites have been converted into recreational facilities for the public, such as golf courses, soccer pitches and parks.
This year, the government earmarked HK$1 billion to set up the Restored Landfill Revitalisation Funding Scheme to develop more facilities like them.
The scheme aims to pick development proposals from non-profit-making organisations and national sports associations, provide them with funding, and monitor their development progress.
The committee will open applications at the end of this year.
"[We will] select projects that can demonstrate financial sustainability in the long run," Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said yesterday.
Wong has appointed a steering committee to help advise him on the operational and managerial aspects of the programme.
Chaired by executive councillor Bernard Chan, the committee comprises representatives from district councils whose areas include restored landfills, as well as people from such diverse fields as accounting and architecture.
In addition to the HK$1 billion, Wong and the committee plan to ask the Finance Committee for a separate HK$40 million to help new facilities cover start-up costs and any operational deficits during the first two years of operation.
Each application will be subject to a cap of HK$5 million.
"When organisations are going to apply for the scheme, they have to consider these constraints," Wong said.
"We can't subsidise operations forever … so we have to draw a line."
Open to the public since September 2010, Ngau Chi Wan Park is Hong Kong's oldest restored landfill site.
Other converted sites include Jordan Valley Park and the Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground in Lam Tin.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Minister has landfill reclamation in his sights