Why Hong Kong’s Lantau reclamation plans don’t pass the jobs and housing test
- Creating an artificial island poses serious risks to Hong Kong’s ecology and budget, and the promise of jobs to an already low-unemployment society isn’t convincing
I am writing in response to the article, “Public housing prioritised for reclaimed land, Hong Kong’s leader to announce”, October 3.
I can see why Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision is regarded as the “silver bullet” solution for Hong Kong’s housing crisis. Still, I would take a strong stand against the mega reclamation plan.
First, the Lantau Tomorrow Vision project can threaten the nearby ecosystem. The plan, whether it involves 2,200 hectares or 1,700, will affect areas including Kau Yi Chau, with its areas of high ecological value and biodiversity, and also the waters near the reclamation area. In these areas, there are corals and microorganisms that rely on the ocean currents to grow, and habitats for endangered dolphin species like the finless porpoise and Chinese white dolphin. If marine life in these areas is disrupted, the damage to ecosystem cannot be underestimated.
Secondly, Lantau Tomorrow Vision does not conform to the sustainable development criteria for our economy. The reclamation project will be hugely expensive at HK$500 billion, not counting the different incidental fees and likely budget blowouts during construction. I am afraid that the project will end up like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge – with its years of delay and budget overruns. Although our government is very wealthy, spending billions on this project may leave it with inadequate resources to back other future policies.
Therefore, why don’t we take a step back and use alternative medium-term solutions for the housing shortage? Develop brownfield sites and golf courses, or tap private agricultural land reserves in the New Territories. These deserted sites are similar to the artificial island that would be created years from now, and also save billions in reclamation. How strange is it that the government plans to leave these sites as they are?
Some supporters of the project believe it will create jobs. But actually, even without the project’s help, the jobless rate in Hong Kong is falling, and remains well below the international mean.
Yankee Mak, Tsuen Wan