Public opposition will not scupper reclamation plans for five suggested sites, the development minister says, urging the public to be open-minded towards the proposals that seek to boost land supply.
The five sites on the shortlist, all located near the shore, are in Tuen Mun, Sha Tin, Tsing Yi and on Lantau. Together, they could provide about 600 hectares of land, the Development Bureau said.
"We think the five proposals are feasible," Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said on the radio yesterday. "It's not like we put forward several and then if the public opposes them, we retract some of the proposals and keep only some."
Chan said Hongkongers would be failing their future generations if the government did nothing now to increase land reserves.
"Even when we talk about reclamation, from discussion to [finishing the actual work], it will take at least 10 years," he said. "But if we don't think about [how to boost land reserves] and wait until we are thirsty enough to dig a well, we won't have enough time to do so."
He urged the public to adopt a broader picture of the issue.
Last week, the bureau suggested developing five reclamation sites and creating an artificial island to build up a "strategic land reserve".
Two of the sites are at Sunny Bay and Siu Ho Wan in northern Lantau, while there is one each in Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, Ma Liu Shui in Sha Tin, and Tsing Yi.
However, at least three of the sites - the ones in Lantau and Tuen Mun - may endanger the city's Chinese white dolphins as they are near current or proposed marine parks and are opposed by environmental concern groups.
Chan received mixed opinions from listeners who phoned in. Some said it was not necessary to reclaim land as there were other options, such as revitalising industrial buildings. But others said it was the only way to provide new land for residential use.
The bureau launched a three-month public consultation on the six proposals.