The five-month “big debate on land supply” has almost come to an end. While all sectors of the community have actively participated in the lively discussion, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has expressed her support for land reclamation, demonstrating the Government’s determination to increase land supply in the long run.
In fact, to effectively address the problem of land shortage, reclamation is an inevitable option. I hope the Government can think out of the box and proactively study the feasibility of reclamation in the eastern waters off Lantau Island and neighbouring areas in order to make Hong Kong a more livable city.
Our Hong Kong Foundation recently released a research report, “Re-imagining Hong Kong with a Game-Changer: Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis,” which proposed reclaiming 2,200 hectres of land between Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island – namely between Peng Chau, Kau Yi Chau, Hei Ling Chau and Sunshine Island – for the development of an “East Lantau Metropolis” equivalent to half the size of Kowloon. According to the proposal, the artificial island would be connected to New Territories West, Lantau Island and the western part of Hong Kong Island through three major road links. It could also be linked to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Greater Bay Area to help realize a “one-hour living circle” within the GBA.
Indeed, with moderate wind and wave conditions and water depth, coupled with the fact that it is relatively far away from the habitat of Chinese white dolphins and finless porpoises, East Lantau is a suitable location for land reclamation. Of course, during the consultation process, the Government should take into account the views of different stakeholders and liaise with related departments in the Mainland to formulate a comprehensive marine conservation plan.
As an international city, Hong Kong should strike a balance between different land uses such as commercial and industrial, cultural and recreational, and education and medical services, in addition to addressing the housing problem. Demand for land will only continue to increase. Although in-depth research has been conducted on various reclamation options, the SAR Government has all along failed to make a final decision. Given the forseeable long discussion process, if the community does not reach a consensus as soon as possible, and keeps procrastinating over the plan for large-scale reclamation, Hong Kong runs the risk of lagging behind other metropolises.
I hope the Government will help society understand the rationale behind reclamation for the long-term benefits of Hong Kong. It is also necessary for the Government to be decisive and start reclamation in the Central Waters as soon as possible. The Government should nevertheless go ahead and pursue projects that are beneficial to the city’s long-term development, in order to promote sustainable economic growth. .