Blind insistence on reclamation ignores other land options preferred by public

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2012, 12:00am


Any hope that our administration had learned from the revelations made during the farcical chief executive election were quashed by the sponsored feature ('6 pronged approach to land supply', March 29). This focused on one prong only, reclamation.

Along with articles and letters from Edwin Tong of the Civil Engineering and Development Department, this is another example of the determination to push ahead with yet another unpopular programme that is supported only by vested interests such as engineers, property developers and construction companies.

The consultation on land supply is deeply flawed, with particular regard to the need for reclamation.

Focus groups, public forums and a Legislative Council hearing indicate it is merely an exercise to convince the community that reclamation is inevitable and the only solution to increasing land supply.

Government representatives and professional and academic bodies involved have talked enthusiastically about the benefits of reclamation.

This enthusiasm was not shared by the public, and online and written responses are certainly in the same vein.

Residents have major concerns about it and time and again have questioned population growth projections and why other options are not being explored.

These include, for example, administrative measures to encourage developers to use their land banks and release 250,000 currently vacant units, a review of the policies hindering rezoning and land assembly. With our large budget surplus, there is no lack of funds to engage the expertise required to resolve these issues.

Many sites that should be rezoned are already served by transport and other infrastructure while reclamation is virgin land with no essential services. The argument that reclamation is the cheaper option ignores the huge costs of providing these facilities.

Most of all, there are strong objections to reclaiming our coastline to build a wall of empty luxury investment vehicles that further line the pockets of our property developers.

No funding for reclamation should be approved until concrete steps are taken to implement the other five prongs.

However, as only a handful of legislators sat in on the hearing, and none of those who always vote against the public interest, the aspirations of the community for sustainable land supply development will remain unfulfilled.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui