China city puts incinerator project on hold after protests - state media

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The city of Wuhan in central China has put a controversial garbage-burning power plant on hold and promised not to proceed without the approval of residents, the Global Times newspaper said on Tuesday, following days of protests.

An official with the Xinzhou government in Wuhan told the paper that the project had created “misunderstandings” among the public. The city could not continue to rely on landfills to handle its waste problems, the official added, but it would consult with local people before making a final decision.

Trash has emerged as one of China’s biggest environmental challenges, with most major cities encircled by miles of landfill. Beijing said in a policy document in 2017 that it aimed to invest nearly 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) over the 2016-2020 period to double its incineration capacity.

But it has missed previous incineration targets, largely because of public opposition to new plants being built in urban areas, with residents worried about the stench and the risk of toxic emissions.

The government has sought to allay “nimbyism” by offering cheaper water, heat and electricity for people who live near waste-to-energy projects, but the schemes have continued to provoke opposition throughout the country.

Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Richard Pullin