When Hong Kong’s British rulers announced plans for a new airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1990, they set off a minor boom on Lantau. Not even the sleepy southern parts were immune; I bought my South Lantau apartment in 2006 at below the 1994 price.
But that has nothing on the scale of what is planned for the next decade. While most of these projects are strictly speaking offshore, all will impact massively on the Lantau physical and living environment – especially for Tung Chung residents.
For easy reference, I have mapped all the current and proposed mega-projects here.
The biggest of these, like the pointless Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the environmental and financial disaster that would be the Shek Kwu Chu incinerator, are already notorious. But who knew that to accommodate the bridge landing zone will be a 130-ha artificial island off Chek Lap Kok? Or that another equally massive reclamation is envisaged to stretch from the other side of Tung Chung Bay? Or of the two-lane, 5-km long subsea tunnel to Tuen Mun?
Much of this frenetic pouring of cement centres around the 55-km Macau bridge, which not even the biggest boosters believe offers any significant time saving (famously, it’s a road bridge only).
The best that can be said of this tsunami of concrete is that it may absorb some of the 100 million tourists that the government, in one of its most deranged forecasts ever, expects this already severely-overloaded city to warmly welcome in ten years.
More accurately it tells the story of Hong Kong’s plight – the cronyism, the bad air, the deteriorating social amenity, the exorbitant property prices, the willingness to tip taxpayer funds into grandiose objects. Over and above all of this are the declining terms of political trade with the mainland.
Each of those projects is worth a story in itself. I wrote about them in a little more detail for the Life on Lantau magazine February issue, out now and available at locations around Lantau.