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Hong Kong housing

Hong Kong should rethink island-building plans that are based on uncertain population predictions

    PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2018, 4:46pm
    UPDATED : Sunday, 21 October, 2018, 4:46pm

    I do not support the government’s plan to build artificial islands in Lantau waters, but not for the reasons that some have pointed out. In a letter on October 16, for example, Alice Yiu cited two main reasons for her opposition to the proposal: its high cost and doubts about its safety (“More housing through massive reclamation is not worth it if Carrie Lam’s artificial island is unsafe”).

    At an estimated cost of HK$500 billion, the project is expensive. But when weighed against the advantages of homes for 1.1 million people and greater job opportunities, we could argue that it’s worth it.

    And I simply do not believe the government would build an unsafe island.

    But there are other factors to consider.

    Why Lantau reclamation would only breed a white elephant

    First, the plan is based on a projected population of 9 million, which is just not credible – not only because it is significantly higher than census officials’ own estimate of a population peak in 2043 of 8.22 million. The project will take about 30 years to complete, and in that time, many things could happen that would change population trends, for example, migration flows.

    Second, the health of our environment is at stake. Although some people have highlighted the potential harm to sea turtles and dolphins, I think the potential damage extends far beyond impact on these animals. Our natural environment is an eco-system and no part exists alone. Therefore, if harm is done to one part, it could trigger irreversible change.

    Whether or not you support reclamation, these factors should be considered.

    Timothy Fuh Yee-him, Tsuen Wan