Land reclamation is not all bad if there is careful planning with the livelihoods of Hongkongers as the top priority, a public forum held by the government heard yesterday.
The forum - attended by about 200 people - was the second of three at which the public have been invited to question representatives from the Development Bureau, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD), the Planning Department, global engineering consulting firm Arup and academics.
To allay public fears that reclaimed land would be used for luxury flats because of sea views, panellist and CEDD chief engineer Robin Lee Kui-biu said: 'We can look at new towns like Tuen Mun that are from reclaimed land. It is such a large plot of land that there are affordable as well as expensive residences. We would do the same for new reclaimed land, because we hope it will be large enough to serve a variety of needs.'
Biology professor Nora Tam Fung-yee of City University of Hong Kong said: 'It is indisputable that Hong Kong people need more space, so we need to increase land supply. The 'post-'80s' generation of Hongkongers no longer accept living with eight other people in one room like their parents' generation; now we want one room to one person.'
Roy Tam Hoi-pong, president of Green Sense, said at a protest outside the forum that the government proposal of 25 sites for possible land reclamation was creating divisions among people who are fearful that their home will be picked as the site for reclamation. He said land reclamation should be the last resort and other methods of creating more space must be considered first.
Theresa Yeung Wing-shan, an Arup consultant, explained to the public that the reason the two alternatives to land reclamation - redeveloping old areas and changing the function of underused land to residential or commercial purposes - were not adequate was that these were only possible if there was demand from the market. The purpose of creating land is to have a stable reserve for future generations to use.
The third and fina public-consultation forum will be next Saturday, February 18.