Hong Kong housing

Government-appointed land supply task force gives its support to controversial Lantau Island land reclamation plan

  • In a report to be submitted this month, the Task Force on Land Supply says the East Lantau metropolis is a ‘key’ solution to city’s land shortage
  • It also urges the government to address issues regarding the proposed scheme, particularly environmental ones
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 11:09pm

A government-appointed task force on land supply has thrown its weight behind a plan to build a 1,000-hectare artificial island in southwest Hong Kong, agreeing the project could bring unique “strategic benefits” to the city, the Post has learned.

In its report to be submitted to the government by the end of this month, the Task Force on Land Supply considers the East Lantau metropolis a “key” solution to surmount Hong Kong’s land supply crunch, with advantages unmatched by other options such as building on brownfield sites.

The benefits include establishing a new core business district and the opportunity to build additional public transport infrastructure networks to ease traffic between northwest New Territories and urban areas.

A source at the task force said that, compared with other options of land supply, the East Lantau metropolis, proposed by the government in 2016, offered a more predictable time frame because it would not incur land resumption and resettlement.

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“The land supply generated by the plan would be more stable than other options,” the source said. The government would have a bigger say in land supply if it has a land reserve.”

The Post understands that a telephone survey commissioned by the task force in冖August found 58 per cent of 3,000 respondents backed the East Lantau Metropolis, one of the 18 options to source land put forward by the task force during a five-month consultation, which ended in September.

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The task force was set up by Chief Executive Carrie Lam to identify at least 1,200 hectares of land which could be built on, boosting supply in the world’s priciest property market.

It is expressing support to the idea of artificial islands despite earlier friction with Lam, who pre-empted the task force’s consultation.

In October, before the taskforce issued its recommendations, Lam announced a scaled-up version of the metropolis, the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, involving 1,700 hectare of reclamation, 700 hectares more than the original scheme. Her scheme would house up to 1.1 million people.

Task force member and former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing then revealed the body’s chairman and members were “shocked and disappointed” about Lam’s announcement, which they had no knowledge of in advance.

Lam later modified her message to say reclamation would come in two phases, the first one covering 1,000 hectares.

The task force also notes concerns about the impact on the environment and the dangers posed by climate change and extreme weather. It calls on the government to address these.

Leung Wing-mo, former assistant director of the Hong Kong Observatory, said it seemed the task force had not conducted a scientific study of the possible impact of extreme weather on the artificial island.

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“I won’t oppose the plan to house people on reclaimed land off Lantau if the feasibility studies conducted by the government later produce scientific evidence that the risk of extreme weather can be mitigated,” he said. “But I have my doubts they will be able to.”

The task force puts using part of Hong Kong Golf Club’s course at Fanling for housing among eight preferred options for easing Hong Kong’s land supply crunch.

Other long-term options that the task force would recommend included developing more new towns in the New Territories, redeveloping the cargo terminal in Tuen Mun, and using underground space.