Building in Lantau country parks not ruled out, says development chief Paul Chan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 5:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 9:40am

Development chief Paul Chan Mo-po stoked a fresh row over the future of country parks yesterday, saying the government would not rule out building in protected areas to develop Lantau Island.

Speaking after the first meeting of the Lantau Development Advisory Committee, Chan said the government would listen to all points of view, including the idea advanced by some committee members that country parks should be developed.

The committee was created last month by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to advance his suggestion of building a commercial "metropolis" on an artificial island off Lantau, and to explore ways Lantau could benefit from the new bridge linking it to Macau and Zhuhai from 2016.

"We will look into the development [of the island] in the medium and long term," Chan said yesterday. "Planning for Hong Kong's future development will go beyond a period of five or 10 years. We will not confine it to any stringent principles."

It would "capitalise on Lantau's advantages as the confluence of major transport infrastructure linking Hong Kong, Macau and the western Pearl River Delta". But he said conservation would be on the agenda.

Members had "different opinions" regarding country parks, said Chan, who attracted controversy last year for floating the idea of developing parks.

Some 69 per cent of Lantau's 146 square kilometres is covered by country parks, and advisory committee member Franklin Lam Fan-keung last month suggested building in the parks.

Speaking after yesterday's meeting, committee member Wu Chi-wai, who opposes building in country parks, said the discussion was not based on a 2007 concept plan for Lantau, drawn up after public consultation. He was worried the country park boundaries specified in the plan would not be honoured.

Former Observatory chief Lam Chiu-ying, who has campaigned to save the country parks, said Chan's remarks were "unacceptable".

Green space should take up more than 40 per cent of cities, he said, citing a 2001 State Council instruction.

"While other cities are aiming for an increase (in greenery), we are doing the opposite. It's ridiculous," he said.