Tung Chung expansion scheme unveiled, raising reclamation concerns

134 hectares would be reclaimed on Lantau for long-term housing, but conservationists are worried about the environmental impact

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 9:10am

The government wants to extend Tung Chung on Lantau Island by reclaiming 134 hectares of land east and west of the new town, as part of its quest for long-term housing land.

The scheme, which would yield up to 53,000 flats in a decade and be served by two new railway stations, was revealed yesterday as the Development Bureau launched a second-stage consultation for the project - and aroused concerns over the ecological impact brought by the scale of the reclamation.

"This new town extension study forms a very important part of the government's overall study on long-term land supply," a bureau spokesman said.

"Land in Tung Chung has been used up. Further developments must render reclamation," he added.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has stressed the importance of developing Tung Chung, which he says is the centre of the Pearl River Delta.

The scheme would boost the population of Tung Chung from 100,000 to 154,000. Most of the land will be sourced by reclaiming 120 hectares of coastline east of the town, which will provide 38,000 flats, commercial space and a park.

In another option for Tung Chung East, more land will be reserved for commerce and a 350-berth marina, cutting housing by 5,000. Officials say this would tap into the potential for economic development due to the proximity to the airport and a cross-border bridge. An environmental impact assessment would be conducted with regard to Chinese white dolphins.

In Tung Chung west, the plan has been changed to move reclamation away from the Tung Chung Bay, where a river, a mudflat and a mangrove play host to rare species including a frog and a crab. A site of 14 hectares will be reclaimed away from them.

When land is available in 2021, 40 per cent of the flats will be for public housing and the rest private. An MTR station will be provided for both parts.

Samantha Lee Mei-wah, a marine conservation officer from WWF, said the reclamation at Tung Chung east would "violate the conservation principle" underlying the government's plan to set up a marine park at Brothers Islands northwest of Tung Chung for the protection of Chinese white dolphins.

Peter Lee Siu-man, of the Conservation Association, urged officials to leave Tung Chung Bay completely free of development.

Bill Tang Ka-piu, an Islands District councillor, welcomed the plan to cancel work at Tung Chung Bay, but said development was needed at Tung Chung East. "We don't have enough population. There are schools which have half-filled classes."

Lee Wing-tat, a former lawmaker who now runs concern group Land Watch, said officials should reverse the provision ratio of public and private housing in order to justify the reclamation.