Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said the first phase of the Lantau reclamation project will begin as soon as 2025 with the aim of constructing an artificial island with an area of about 1,000 hectares for housing.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Wong also announced that the administration fully endorses all the eight options suggested by the Task Force on Land Supply to address the shortage of land for housing in the territory, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Of the eight options, developing the East Lantau metropolis is of the largest scale.
Under the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in her policy address on Oct. 10 last year, artificial islands that can provide as much as 1,700 hectares of land and can then be used for the construction of up to 400,000 residential units will be created through large-scale reclamation in the seas off Lantau.
Wong said a study will be conducted as soon as possible on the project’s first phase, which is expected to create a 1,000-hectare artificial island near Kau Yi Chau between Hong Kong Island and the main island of Lantau.
He said the island will enable the construction of 150,000 to 260,000 flats, of which 70 percent will be for public housing.
The development chief stressed that the project is strategically important for Hong Kong’s long-term development.
A plan for the first-phase work will be submitted to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Development for discussion in March before funding approval is sought by the first half of this year.
If all goes well, reclamation work will start as soon as 2025, with the first batch of residential units expected to be offered by 2032, Wong said.
He pointed out that the 1,700-hectare reclamation plan has never changed and the task force has expressed no objection to the proposal, adding that the public engagement exercise it conducted pertains only to the reclamation of 1,000 hectares.
Welcoming the administration’s full acceptance of the eight options, Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the 30-member task force, said he does not feel the government made use of its recommendation to try to reclaim the 1,700 hectares of land in the mega project.
Patrick Yeung Chun-wing, from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to build flats through reclamations in the waters surrounding East Lantau and other nearby places.
Yeung, who is manager of oceans conservation at WWF, said he is worried that reclamation would result in irreversible damage to marine ecology and fishery resources, thereby affecting the livelihood of fishermen.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Wong also announced that the government will expedite the development of brownfield sites, tap into private agricultural land reserve in the New Territories, and reclaim 32 hectares of the Fanling Golf Course for housing.
However, Wong made it clear that the government will not develop the fringes of country parks at the moment since the idea was not put forward by the task force and not supported by the majority of the public.
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