Reclamation outside harbour must be considered

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 2:37am

I refer to the report ("Land bank rethink in population slowdown", August 20).

The article suggested that the government's strategy to build up a land bank might have to be revised because the Census and Statistics Department recently lowered Hong Kong's projected population from 8.89 million in 2039 to 8.47 million in 2041.

While the accommodation of 1.37 million people - about twice the population of Sha Tin - would in itself require a considerable amount of land, two other important factors should be taken on board.

First, the department also predicts that the proportion of people aged 65 and over will rise significantly from 13 per cent in 2011 to 30 per cent in 2041, leading to a growing demand for facilities and space for the elderly. Second, the 2011 Population Census revealed there is a trend of shrinking households. The proportion of small households (one or two persons) increased from 37.5 per cent in 2001 to 42.3 per cent in 2011. Both factors will press for more land.

The government is committed to pursuing additional land resources and building up a land reserve to meet the increasing need for housing and community facilities, public aspirations for a better living environment, and infrastructural and economic development. As regards a land reserve, apart from the conventional approach of forming land to put into the land reserve, we will consider identifying and reserving potential sites after further analysis and studies. Construction work will start only when the need is established.

We launched the Stage One public engagement in November 2011 on enhancing land supply strategy.

The majority of responses either supported or indicated no objection to enhancing land supply using a multi-pronged approach, which includes reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, re-zoning, redevelopment, resumption of land, rock cavern development and reuse of ex-quarry sites. As different supply options involve different challenges and limitations, we need all six in play to form a flexible and resilient mix of land supply options to meet future challenges and opportunities.

In this respect, it is worth pointing out that reclamation can also help resolve problems associated with surplus public fill and contaminated mud. We will propose a number of sites for public consultation in Stage Two public engagement. Stage Two will commence in the fourth quarter of 2012 for completion in the first quarter of 2013.

Edwin K.H. Tong, head of the Civil Engineering Office, Civil Engineering and Development Department