Further reclamation of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour would be unacceptable

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 10:29pm

Our society refers to the article by Ken Chu, of the Hong Kong Foundation (“Follow Singapore and reclaim more land”, August 21), who proposed massive reclamation to produce land for residential development.

By way of comparison, the reclamations in Singapore extend into the South China Sea and in the Netherlands into the North Sea. These two seas are hundreds of miles wide and millions of times larger than our Victoria Harbour which, after decades of intensive reclamation, has become less than one kilometre wide and already more like a river than a harbour.

As for Macau, it never had a natural harbour suitable for shipping. The expansive reclamation there only covered up the mudflats which were land at low tide anyway.

Harbour reclamation has been universally condemned by the Hong Kong community over the past two decades. The harbour is now protected by the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and various judgments from the High Court and Court of Final Appeal. The legal pronouncements are supported by numerous public statements of principle.

These include public commitments by the government, “Vision Statement for the Victoria Harbour” of the Town Planning Board, “Harbourfront Planning Principles” and “Harbourfront Planning Guidelines” of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, a statement of principle of the Harbourfront Commission, “Statement of Sustainable Development” by the Environmental Protection Department and seven resolutions passed by the Legislative Council, all condemning further reclamation of the harbour.

Our society points out that even reclamation outside the harbour to produce land for residential development is questionable. Besides environmental damage, the reclamation works and provision of the necessary infrastructure will make the land produced too expensive to provide affordable housing, and the process will take too long.

It would be more profitable for the Hong Kong Foundation to study alternative sources of land supply, especially in the New Territories which has a total area of 96,000 hectares representing 90 per cent of Hong Kong’s total land mass. Three-quarters of this remain underdeveloped. Excluding the country parks and other sensitive areas, there are still over 10,000 hectares available for residential development in the New Territories.

This is out of all proportion compared to the measly 500 hectares that can be produced by filling in and irreversibly destroying our invaluable Victoria Harbour.

Winston Chu Ka-sun, adviser, Society for Protection of the Harbour