China incinerator plan cancelled after protests

Chinese man holds his son, wearing a mask for pollution, as they wait in the departure area for a train at a local railway station on 16 February 2015 in Beijing, China. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption China has seen growing concern over the environmental cost of the country's development

Officials in charge of a southern Chinese town have cancelled plans to build an incinerator after mass protests this week.

Thousands had demonstrated on Monday and Tuesday at a town near Luoding city in Guandong province, some clashing violently with police.

Officials pleaded for calm on Wednesday night and promised to halt the plan.

It is the latest case of officials backing down in the face of public anger over plant construction projects.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says China's middle class is increasingly aware of the huge environmental cost of breakneck development, and authorities are facing growing opposition when they propose to build industrial plants close to cities or towns.

According to reports, Luoding officials had planned to build an incinerator that would burn 300 tonnes of rubbish a day in Langtang town, which comes under the city's jurisdiction.

A deal was signed with a local cement factory, but residents reportedly grew concerned that the plan had gone through without adequate environmental checks and approvals.

Demonstrators gathered at the cement factory on Monday and Tuesday.

The protests reportedly grew violent, with cars overturned and debris hurled at riot police. Hong Kong media outlet Now News broadcast footage showing scuffles.

US based reported that at least 10 people were injured and more than 20 were arrested. It ran pictures showing injured protesters and others attacking a local police station.

City officials later issued a statement (in Chinese) saying that there had been a "misunderstanding" and that the plan would be cancelled "as a response to the people's requests".

They also issued a letter to residents calling on them to "not resort to aggressive behaviour" and to refrain from destroying public property.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Firefighters battled blazes at a chemical plant this week in Zhangzhou city

Our correspondent says many Chinese are worried about the safety and environmental impact of big industrial plants.

This week, hundreds of firefighters have been battling a series of fires erupting and reigniting at a chemical plant in Zhangzhou city in Fujian province. The latest fire was put out early on Thursday.

More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from the city's surrounding areas. Authorities have insisted that there has been no contamination.

In March a documentary on China's air pollution problem called Under the Dome, made by renowned investigative journalist Chai Jing, took the country by storm and garnered millions of views online in days.

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